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Cold Blast Prompts Freeze Warnings For Large Portion Of South Carolina

Freeze Watches and Warnings
Megan Borowski

The strong cold front responsible for a couple of hail and wind damage reports in the Midlands and Lowcountry late Wednesday afternoon is sending an early spring chill to the Palmetto State.

The National Weather Service issued Freeze Warnings for most of the Upstate and Midlands from 2 AM until 9 AM Friday morning, where freezing temperatures are most likely. A Freeze Watch is in effect from Florence and Darlington counties eastward into northern Horry county. The Freeze Watch means freezing temperatures are possible, but not yet certain.

Data from Clemson University indicate that there's about a 50 percent chance of a frost after the last week of March or first week of April for nearly all locations in the Freeze Warning. That means in about half of all years in the historical record, the last frost has already occurred. This shot of cold air may therefore endanger sensitive vegetation that is planted earlier in the season.

Record low temperatures are also possible Friday morning. Columbia's record low is 32 degrees set in 1997, Charleston's is 36 set in 1942, and North Myrtle Beach's record is 36 degrees set in 1962. Forecast lows of 33, 35, and 33 degrees, respectively, would put these records for April 2 in jeopardy. On top of that, high temperatures Friday afternoon may be so cool that they, too, could be record-setting. Charleston's forecast high of 54 would beat the record of 56 degrees in 2019 and North Myrtle Beach's forecast high of 50 would beat the record of 51 degrees also set two years ago on the same date.

Lighter winds on Saturday morning are likely to bring even colder temperatures to parts of the state. Lows in the upper 20s to lower 30s are likely over much of the Upstate and Midlands again, where frost may be more likely because of the light winds. Areas of frost are also possible over the Pee Dee and interior Lowcountry, where temperatures may dip to the lower and mid 30s.

A steady moderation in temperature, with still some pretty crisp mornings and warm afternoons, will start on Saturday afternoon and last into early next week.