Weather

Florence stares down the Carolinas. Here’s a reminder of how deadly hurricanes can be

CCU team predicts ‘normal to above normal’ hurricane season

The Hurricane Genesis & Outlook team at CCU are predicting 11-18 named tropical storms with 5-9 of those becoming hurricanes, and 2-5 becoming major hurricanes. Team members explain why they think their model is very accurate.
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The Hurricane Genesis & Outlook team at CCU are predicting 11-18 named tropical storms with 5-9 of those becoming hurricanes, and 2-5 becoming major hurricanes. Team members explain why they think their model is very accurate.

With predictions leaning toward a more active Atlantic storm year, the first day of hurricane season isn’t exactly something to celebrate.

In the past 100 years, South Carolina has been hit with billion-dollar storms and hurricanes causing nearly 100 deaths.

Here are some of the worst storms to hit the Palmetto State in the last century:

Hurricane Hugo

When Hugo landed on Sullivans Island in September 1989, top winds were measured at 140 miles per hour, according to the Department of Natural Resources. The Category 4 storm managed to travel all the way from West Africa to hit South Carolina straight on the nose after hovering over Atlantic islands.

Hugo traveled from Charleston and passed right by Columbia during the early morning hours, causing $7 billion in damage and killing 49. About 60,000 people lost their homes because of the storm, according to the DNR.

Hurricane Hazel

Hazel was turning with winds at about 140 miles per hour when it hit near Little River, according to the Department of Natural Resources. In 1954, the Category 4 storm made landfall in the little border town between North and South Carolina, whose residents only had a 24-hour heads-up.

The storm, which caused $163 million in damage and 95 deaths, continued its destructive path north, continuing into Canada. According to the DNR, every pier in Myrtle Beach and many beachfront homes were demolished. North and South Carolina beaches accounted for $63 million in losses.

Hurricane Gracie

As Hurricane Gracie took aim at South Carolina in 1959, coastal residents braced for a Category 4 storm with winds hitting 140 miles per hour, according to the Department of Natural Resources. Luckily, before making landfall in Beaufort, Gracie was downgraded to a Category 3, with maximum winds measuring 125 miles per hour.

The weakened storm headed for Columbia before turning toward North Carolina. Overall, the storm caused $14 million in damage and 22 deaths, according to the DNR. About 50 percent of that damage was in Charleston County.

Hurricane Matthew

Though Matthew only hit near McClellanville as a Category 1 storm, it caused enough damage to retire its name from the list of Atlantic hurricane names, according to the National Weather Service. The storm was the most powerful in the Atlantic for the 2016 season, making three landfalls before hitting the Palmetto State. Winds were measured at 87 miles per hour in Hilton Head.

Matthew was responsible for 25 deaths in North Carolina and four deaths in South Carolina, according to the weather service. Damage, which is still being dealt with by some government agencies, is estimated at $10.3 billion.

It's been over a year since Hurricane Matthew tore through Hilton Head Island, leaving debris and uprooted trees across the island. Here's where some of that debris remains — and why it's not cleaned up.

The Georgia-South Carolina Hurricane

While it didn’t hit in the last century, the Georgia-South Carolina hurricane of 1881 deserves a mention on this list. As one of the most deadly hurricanes to hit South Carolina, the Georgia-South Carolina hurricane made landfall south of Savannah, Ga., as a Category 2, according to the National Weather Service. Winds reached about 105 miles per hour and caused a 15-foot storm surge in Beaufort. More than 700 deaths were recorded.

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