Hugo30

Charleston's Emergency Management Director Shannon Scaff preparing for a  live interview with The Weather Channel
Victoria Hansen/SC Public Radio

There's a brief lull in the heavy rain that's hit Charleston as Hurricane Dorian lingers off the coast.  The city's Emergency Managment Director Shannon Scaff takes a deep breath. 

He's about to interview live, nationally with The Weather Channel.  He's also relieved.  The storm isn't over yet and already he knows it could have been much worse.

"We got lucky with the tides," he tells the reporter. "The storm surge wasn’t as bad as what was forecasted originally."

NOAA satellite infrared image of Hurrricane Hugo, 12:01 a.m., Sept. 22, 1989.
NOAA

Thirty years ago this month, the strongest and most costly hurricane to strike South Carolina in the 20th century made landfall. Hurricane Hugo was a Category 4 storm when it came ashore just slightly north of Charleston, on Isle of Palms on September 22. The hurricane had 140 mph sustained winds, with gusts to more than 160 mph and brought a storm surge of over 20 feet to McClellanville, SC. Thirty-five people lost their lives to the storm and its aftermath in South Carolina. Damage from Hugo in South Carolina was estimated at $5.9 billion.

Hurricane Florence, seen here as a Category 3 storm on Sept. 12, 2018, approaches the East Coast. It eventually made landfall as a Category 1 storm near Wrightsville Beach, N.C., on Sept. 14, and caused massive inland flooding.
NOAA

This summer we're dedicating several episodes of South Carolina Lede to in-depth topics we felt needed futher exploration.

On this first South Carolina Lede Summer School special, host Gavin Jackson examines the history of hurricanes in South Carolina. From Hurricane Hugo in 1989 to Hurricane Florence in 2018, we look at the impact of these major storms with Jamie Arnold, chief meteorologist with WMBF News. Then Derrec Becker, public information officer with the South Carolina Emergency Management Division, joins us to discuss what can be done both personally and on the statewide level to adapt to and safeguard against future storms.