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Damaging winds could move across Palmetto State Saturday

Strong storms arrive in the Palmetto State Saturday
Meteorologist Justin Ballard
South Carolina Emergency Information Network
An approaching cold front will produce storms capable of damaging wind Saturday, especially along and east of I-95.

Strong storms are forecast to bring a damaging wind risk Friday into Saturday as a cold front slowly sweeps across the state.

Surface analysis Thursday afternoon depicts a potent area of low pressure located in the Central Plains, with an associated cold front stretching to the Rio Grande River Valley. High pressure located over the Southeast is working in tandem with the low in the Central U.S. to pull in increasingly unstable air into places like Texas, Oklahoma, and Missouri. The risk of severe weather will unfold first Thursday in these locations before eventually shifting east into the Palmetto State Saturday.

An increasingly moist and unstable atmosphere will develop ahead of the approaching cold front Friday night into Saturday morning. Model guidance suggests dew points across the state will reach into the 60s by daybreak Saturday, with afternoon highs likely climbing into the upper 70s to near 80. The combination of a modestly unstable environment with an slight increase in energy courtesy of an approaching cold front will create the possibility of gusty thunderstorms.

Storms are forecast to reach the Upstate overnight Friday, with models generally depicting a broken line of thunderstorms developing during the predawn hours Saturday. As storms develop early Saturday across the Upstate, the severe risk will be lowest due in part to a lack of appreciable instability. As storms press into the Midlands after by midday Saturday, a more favorable environment for stronger thunderstorms is likely. By Saturday afternoon, a line of thunderstorms is expected to stretch along I-95 from North Carolina to Coastal Georgia. A line of strong storms will be present across the Midlands by around midday Saturday, with the line pressing into the Lowcountry and Pee Dee by the middle of the afternoon. Locations along and east of I-95, including Charleston and Myrtle Beach, are in the highest risk for more widespread severe weather. The Storm Prediction Center highlights this region of the state Saturday with a "slight" risk of severe storms, which is a 2 on a severe weather scale of 1-to-5, meaning more numerous severe thunderstorms are possible. A severe weather outbreak does not appear likely, but because storms will be moving through during peak hours for daytime heating, more numerous strong and severe storms are possible. West of I-95, a "marginal" risk is in place, which is a 1 on a severe weather scale of 1-to-5. This designation means that severe storms are not expected to be widespread, but could be isolated through Saturday afternoon.

Conditions will not likely remain rain-free for long, as the same front that slowly pushes through the state over the weekend will begin retrograding early next week. Dry weather should last through early next week, but rain chances will increase by midweek next week across the state. Looking at longer range forecasts, the next six to ten days do feature above average chances for rainfall across the entire state. Areas east of I-95, which were included in abnormally dry conditions with the latest Drought Monitor update Thursday, will likely play put a dent in the deficit in the days to come.