Turbulent Weather Possible Again Thursday
Strong, damaging winds, tornadoes, and hail are possible for the third time in as many weeks on Thursday in the Palmetto State.
NOAA's Storm Prediction Center issued an "enhanced risk" (a level 3 out of 5) for the Lowcountry and Central Savannah River areas of the state, including Aiken, Charleston, Hilton Head, and Walterboro. The remainder of the state is in an "slight risk" (level 2 out of 5). In their early morning discussion, the center said significant severe storms are expected, including the potential for strong tornadoes.
The latest in a series of strong disturbances starting in California will move swing through the Deep South on Thursday. As it approaches South Carolina, rain and thunderstorms are likely, possibly starting as soon as late Wednesday night. Any stormy weather Wednesday night is not likely to cause damage. Winds are forecast to strengthen and turn with height (known as wind shear) which are conducive for organized, rotating storms on Thursday afternoon or evening. There is still a question as to how much warm, unstable air will move northward through the state from the Gulf of Mexico. The most recent computer model simulations indicate the Lowcountry has the greatest chance of seeing this unstable air, which would be more favorable for damaging winds and tornadoes. The Upstate, northern Midlands, and Pee Dee may also experience the warmth and humidity needed for strong thunderstorms, but it is more questionable whether that air mass will make it into those areas.
Heavy rain is also a concern. 1 to 2 inches of rain, with locally higher amounts, may lead to scattered areas of flash flooding. The areas most favored for the heaviest rain are the Midlands and Upstate regions. The wet winter has continued into the spring, with the Upstate and Lowcountry both receiving 150 to 200 percent of their normal rainfall over the past 30 days according to gauge and radar analysis publicly available from NOAA.
Meteorologists say changes to the forecast are likely as the storm moves closer, and urges everyone to check for forecast updates on Wednesday and again Thursday morning. Emergency Management Officials urge residents to have multiple ways of receiving weather warnings and to have a plan of action if a warning is issued for their area.