SC Severe Weather Awareness Week: Tornadoes

The beginning of peak tornado season for South Carolina starts Tuesday and lasts through the end of May.

On average, South Carolina sees around ten tornadoes a year. Last year, we had an above average year with 22 confirmed tornadoes.

The most memorable one in 2010 was in the Oates Community of Darlington on April 25th. This particular tornado was classified as an EF2 with winds reaching 130mph.

We also can't forget the Myrtle Beach tornado on July 6th, 2001. During the height of the tourism season, a severe thunderstorm produced a tornado that moved directly over the Myrtle Beach Pavilion heading south with winds of 60 mph. The tornado was on the ground for nearly 30 minutes eventually dissipating near the old Air Force Base. 30 people were injured and the tornado caused $8 million in damage. Incredibly, though hundreds witnessed the tornado, no one was killed.

The wind speed of a tornado is determined using an enhanced Fujita scale, or EF scale, which uses damage as an indication of speed.

The full scale is as follows:

EF Scale

EF Number Wind Speed (mph)

EF0 65-85

EF1 86-110

EF2 111-135

EF3 136-165

EF4 166-200

EF5 Over 200

If a tornado warning is issued where you live, you need to immediately get to the lowest floor and most interior part of your home. Never stay in a mobile home! If you're caught outside, head to the nearest shelter. As a last resort, get in a ditch and cover your head with your hands.

Click here for tornado preparedness information from the National Weather Service.