30 years ago, a severe late winter storm formed in the western Gulf of Mexico on March 12 and moved eastward, then northeastward, with the center of the low-pressure area passing across South Carolina on the 13th. The storm battered the entire state with damaging winds, frigid weather, and precipitation varying from 1.5 feet of snow in portions of the mountains to snow flurries in the Lowcountry. The South Carolina Emergency Preparedness Division’s (now SCEMD) preliminary estimate was that total damage in South Carolina exceeded $22 million. The S.C. Forestry Commission estimated that high winds damaged 28,385 acres of forests within the four counties of Greenville, Pickens, Oconee, and Spartanburg, with a loss exceeding three million dollars.
Wind gusts up to 65 mph were reported in an area extending from near Table Rock in Pickens County to the north of Gaffney in Cherokee County. There was structural damage to buildings in the area of the highest winds and numerous cases of trees falling on structures. The storm began with a cold rain mixed with sleet, and by the end of the event, snow depths ranged from two to five inches near the Fall Line, 3 to 10 inches along the Interstate 85 corridor, and up to 18 inches in the mountains. One of the highest amounts reported was 18 inches at Camp Greenville near Caesar’s Head. Thunderstorms were associated with the highest amounts of snowfall. Several people in the mountains required rescue when heating systems failed. One of the largest evacuations was the evacuation by air of about 100 teenagers from Camp Greenville.
Snow, freezing rain, and sleet accumulations varied from two to three inches in the western portions of the region to less than an inch in the eastern area. There were numerous power outages, and the cold weather damaged early blossoming peaches and ornamentals. High winds blew down trees and caused some structural damage. Three people in Marion County were injured when a gas station roof collapsed. Fifty-two college students from Boston had to be rescued from a capsized boat on Lake Marion.
Snowfall was mainly less than an inch inland to flurries. High winds damaged piers, roofing shingles, broke windows, and other structures along the coast. Wind gusts up to 81 knots (93 mph) were recorded at Springmaid Pier, Myrtle Beach. Damage to dwellings and businesses in Horry County totaled more than $9 million. Numerous power outages and significant beach erosion were reported.
High winds damaged over 1,500 dwellings and businesses in the Lowcountry and caused numerous power outages. A freighter grounded in Charleston Harbor, two boats sunk, and high winds and seas damaged 30 vessels in the Beaufort area. The severe cold temperatures after the storm killed early tomato plantings and damaged early blossoming peaches. Severe beach erosion was reported on Edisto Island and Folly Beach.
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