Local meteorologists expect widespread rain and thunderstorms to pass through the Lowcountry on Monday, and they say severe storms — lashing winds and tornado potential — are possible.
Severe thunderstorms could bring strong winds with gusts up to 58 mph, the National Weather Service said. Whipping winds can cause damage to trees, mobile homes, roofs and cars. They can also cause widespread power outages. The last stint of severe weather that hit Beaufort County a month ago caused 17,000 customers to go without power.
Meteorologists predict the bulk of the thunderstorms’ wake will fall between 2 p.m. and 8 p.m.
There is a low risk of quarter-sized hail pelting the area, and isolated tornadoes cannot be ruled out, the NWS’ Charleston Office said. While rain will continue to fall in Beaufort County throughout Monday, accumulation rates are expected to only reach up to a half-inch.
The NWS placed Beaufort County’s likelihood for severe storms at a “slight risk,” meaning scattered and severe thunderstorms are possible but would be short-lived and isolated.
Frank Strait, the state’s severe weather liaison, said a relatively warm and humid air mass settled over South Carolina and another cold front trailing the storm, as it moves through the state, are to blame for the incoming thunderstorms. A lot of vertical wind shear moving with the storm could produce tornadoes.
“We have a setup where thunderstorm updrafts will start spinning and that is how tornadoes happen,” Strait said. “While our tornado season starts on January 1 and ends on December 31, our prime time starts in mid-March. Think of Monday as on-the-job training for the higher risk times coming up.”
Blair Holloway, a meteorologist with the NWS’ Charleston Office, said dangerous marine conditions are expected to develop in the evening. A gale warning will go into effect beginning at midnight.
On Tuesday, the sun will creep back out and the temperature could needle as high as 62. However, it’ll be breezy, with wind gusts potentially reaching 40 mph.
Holloway said the next chance of rain will be over the weekend.