Myrtle Beach Hurricanes
We all hope for great weather when we come to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina for a vacation. If you are here for just a brief visit, you may luck out and not have to experience anything more than a passing thunderstorm or two. For those of you who are here for an extended stay or if you call the Grand Strand area home, you may experience a possible visit from something a little more intimidating than some raindrops and a few claps of thunder. From the beginning of June until the end of November, residents, snowbirds and long-term vacationers alike must ride out the Hurricane Season and the potentially high-risk storms that could approach the Carolina coastline.
Hurricanes form during this time period over warm ocean water, which is why we first hear about them forming in the tropical waters near the Bahamas, Caribbean and below the Gulf of Mexico. With these hurricanes forming that far from the Atlantic Coastline, it does give an advantage of time to see where the projected path may be, the projected intensity of the storm, and this can allow everyone to plan accordingly and evacuate if necessary.
There are 5 different categories of hurricanes. A Category 1 hurricane will sustain winds of 74-95 mph and can produce some damage. A Category 2 hurricane will have sustained winds of 96-110 mph and will cause extensive damage. A Category 3 hurricane has sustained wind speeds of 111-130 mph and can cause devastating damage. A Category 4 hurricane will have sustained winds of 131-155 mph and can result in catastrophic damage. The final category is a Category 5 hurricane which will have sustained winds greater than 155 mph and will also cause catastrophic damage. Depending on the category of the hurricane and projected path, mandatory evacuations can occur to help prevent injury and loss of life. The damage unfortunately can sometimes be unavoidable as it was for several of the Grand Strand area’s more infamous hurricanes.
One of the first recorded hurricanes in the area occurred way back in the early 1800s. The Withers family was one of the earliest settlers of the area. In 1822, a strong hurricane came and blew their house into the ocean, claiming the lives of 18 people inside. On October 15, 1954, Hurricane Hazel made landfall on the border between South Carolina and North Carolina as a Category 4 hurricane. Almost 80% of all waterfront dwellings were destroyed during this hurricane and many low-lying barrier islands were completely flooded. This hurricane was particularly devastating and infamous in that the official report from the area Weather Bureau stated “all traces of civilization on the immediate waterfront between the state line and Cape Fear were practically annihilated.” On September 22, 1989, another Category 4 hurricane made landfall in South Carolina by the name of Hurricane Hugo This hurricane claimed the lives of 27 South Carolinians and caused extensive waterfront damage, tremendous storm surges and left telephone poles askew and many feet of sand covering roadways. This storm was so severe that at one point, the Weather Bureau reported about 3,000 tornadoes embedded within the hurricane which was to blame for much of the damage.
Over the years, Myrtle Beach has seen several hurricanes come and go and has been fortunate enough to have avoided other devastating storms. The most recent hurricane that came close to Myrtle Beach was Hurricane Irene on August 23, 2011. Though Irene made landfall further up the North Carolina coast, Myrtle Beach did receive its share of tropical storm-force winds, with branches and older trees falling and some low flooding being some of the worst of the damage.
It is always good to be prepared no matter where a hurricane may hit or how severe it may or may not be. Indeed, the popular Myrtle Beach Skywheel removed its cars in preparation for Hurricane Irene so it is always better to be safe than sorry. Some of the best hurricane preparations are to make sure you have extra batteries and flashlights, non-perishable food in case the electricity goes out, a full tank of gas in your car and clean, comfortable clothes to wear. Secure any movable objects around your dwelling and be sure to board up any windows or doors. Always keep an eye and an ear on the news for any information regarding approaching storms and always heed the warnings and advice of professionals, especially if an evacuation is ordered. If you are about to come on vacation and a hurricane is predicted to arrive during your stay, contact your rental company to find out what advice and instructions they may have regarding your visit. It may be difficult to postpone a vacation but it will be much more enjoyable to come when the weather is safe and beautiful. Hurricanes are incredible forces of nature but luckily ones that do not occur very often, and the everyday weather of Myrtle Beach keeps visitors coming back year after year. Let’s hope your next vacation to Myrtle Beach will be great, memorable and storm-free!