Hurricane Hugo

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."

When Hurricane Hugo Rocked the Piedmont

Sep 17, 2019
NOAA / Public Domain Image

On Sept. 21, 1989, a lot of people in the Piedmont went to bed before the storm arrived. They knew it was on its way; some even knew about it hitting the coast. But hurricane or no hurricane, hurricanes don’t barrel across states and then make their way north, so most people didn’t think much of what was to come.  

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.