Monday is the start of Severe Weather Awareness Week for South Carolina. Each day we will address different severe weather topics including tornadoes, flooding, lightning, and other aspects of severe thunderstorms. As we enter severe weather season, it is important to be informed and prepared for any event.
Thunderstorms can occur year round in South Carolina. On average, people living in central and southern South Carolina see storms between fifty and seventy days each year, while people in the Upstate to the Pee Dee see storms between thirty and fifty days a year. Out of all of the thunderstorms that occur in the United States each year, only ten percent are considered severe.
A thunderstorm is classified as severe if winds exceed 58mph or hail an inch in diameter (or more) is falling.
Severe thunderstorms can cause the same type of damage as tornadoes, like large branches falling or roofs being blown off houses. These effects are often caused by straight line winds or thunderstorm downbursts. Hail causes around $1 billion in damage each year.
High winds and hail can be deadly. If a severe thunderstorm warning is issued, you want to find a sturdy building and get out of the storm. Wind speeds in a thunderstorm can match those in a tornado and hail can cause serious injury. A hailstone the size of a penny can reach speeds of a hundred and twenty miles per hour before reaching the ground.
Severe thunderstorms can also include lightning, heavy rain, and tornadoes. We will have more on tornadoes Tuesday night on NewsChannel 15 as we continue our look at the South Carolina's severe weather.