Storms could bring damaging winds, few tornadoes to the state Friday
An approaching cold front is forecast to bring with it a broken line of possibly strong and severe storms to South Carolina Friday.
A powerful system could bring strong tornadoes to portions of the Plains Thursday and it could bring the risk of damaging winds and even tornadoes to the Palmetto State Friday.
Surface analysis Thursday afternoon shows a vigorous area of low pressure located in the Texas Panhandle, with attendant cold and warm front extending outward. The warm front, which is draped across the Lower Mississippi River Valley, is bringing steady rain from parts of Georgia to Mississippi. South of the warm front, dew points and air temperatures are well above average for early March. The cold front, which stretches from the Texas panhandle to northern Mexico, is pulling in much colder and windier conditions along the front range of the Rockies. In the warm sector ahead of the cold front, instability is forecast to lead to a widespread severe weather outbreak. Severe thunderstorm watches and tornado watches are already in place across portions of Texas and Oklahoma and that severe weather is forecast to move east through Friday.
A "slight" risk of severe weather will be present Friday across the Upstate and Midlands according to the Storm Prediction Center. This designation is a 2 on a severe weather scale of 1-to-5 and means that isolated to widely scattered severe storms are possible. Outside of those two regions of the state, a "marginal" risk of severe weather is possible. This is a 1 on a scale from 1-to-5 and means that isolated severe storms are going to be possible through Friday evening. Unlike the atmosphere over the Plains Thursday, the setup Friday does not support widespread severe thunderstorms in the Palmetto State. The risk of severe weather will mainly be found across the Ohio River Valley, where atmospheric conditions could come together to make severe weather more widespread.
Higher resolution weather models are generally in agreement regarding the timing of thunderstorm arrival. In the Upstate, a broken line of strong and possibly severe storms will arrive likely after sunset Friday. Residents along the I-85 corridor will be most likely to see this line of thunderstorms arrive between 6 and 10 PM. For residents of the Midlands, including the Columbia Metro, storms will likely arrive between 8 PM and midnight Saturday. By this point in the evening, models generally depict a weakening line of convection as storms outrun daytime instability. Finally, the Lowcountry and Pee Dee will see storms enter their region between 10 PM and 2 AM Saturday. While a few storms may still be capable of producing a damaging wind gust or two, most storms by this point will be below severe thresholds.
Storm chances should taper by daybreak Saturday, with drier and slightly cooler air settling into the state in time for the weekend. Partly to mostly sunny skies are expected across the Palmetto State Saturday and Sunday, with high temperatures ranging from the upper-60s in the Upstate to the upper-70s in the Lowcountry.