The powerful thunderstorms that rolled across South Carolina Sunday left tens of thousands of residents in the dark in the middle of the afternoon.
It wasn't just because the skies darkened as the severe weather tracked across the Palmetto State. It was because the powerful wind gusts and potential tornadoes caused power outages in thousands of residences.
The Columbia area and the Midlands were among the areas most heavily impacted by blackouts. But the storm is still moving across the state and could inflict damage in the Charleston and Low Country areas.
Most of the damage was from high winds, which caused trees and tree limbs to fall on and damage power lines, cutting off electricity, according to SCE&G representative Kim Asbill.
At one point around 2:30 p.m., nearly 50,000 of SCE&G's 700,000-plus customers had reported they had lost power. Nearly 350 incidents had been reported as the causes of the outages.
About an hour later, SCE&G reported that more than 38,000 customers remained in the dark, as it's workers had moved fast.
"The storms are still going through the state and haven't hit Charleston yet, so the technicians are still doing damage assessment. But it is all hands on deck," Asbill said.
By 7 p.m., SCE&G reported 1,690 customers were without service in Charleston County. There were also outages in nearby Dorchester (817) and Colleton (463) counties.
The National Weather Service reported that the storm is expected to impact Myrtle Beach and the Grand Strand between 11 p.m. and 1 a.m. A tornado watch is in effect for the Hilton Head and Beaufort County areas until 7 p.m.
Severe thunderstorm warnings were also in effect for the Charlotte region, as well as Rock Hill and York County.
In Lexington County, there were still 21,835 customers without service, while in Richland County more than 12,000 residents were still blacked out. There were 142 incidents reported in Lexington County, and 104 in Richland County.
Nearly 2,000 SCE&G customers in Fairfield County were without power, while Orangeburg and Aiken counties have reported more than 1,000 outages.
The Electric Cooperatives of South Carolina reported that 27,290 customers had lost power as a result of the storm.
Of those, 12,720 were reported by Mid-Carolinia Electric Cooperative, which serves customers in Lexington, Richland, Saluda and Newberry counties. Fairfield Electric Cooperative, which has customers in Richland, Kershaw, Fairfield and Chester counties had 3,745 power outages reported.
Aiken Electric Cooperative reported 6,288 outages, Edisto Electric Cooperative reported 1,571, Santee Electric Cooperative reported 754, Coastal Electric Cooperative 544 among the others left in the dark.
Berkeley Electric Cooperative, which has customers in Berkeley, Charleston and Dorchester counties, reported 2,306 outages.
The storm has made driving treacherous. In addition to debris and live power lines downed in the roads, there have been a number of reports of traffic signals failing to work because of power outages.
There was no word on how long the majority of the blackout would last, or if power was expected to be restored by evening
"There are a lot of outages and our technicians are working to restore power as fast as they can," said Asbill, adding customers without power should report their outages to SCE&G via phone call, text or online.