Myrtle Beach Hurricane History
In September 1686 a squall that slammed ashore on the South Carolina coast, near present day Myrtle Beach, was described as: “wonderfully horrid and destructive… Corne is all beaten down and lyes rotting on the ground… Aboundance of our hoggs and Cattle were killed in the Tempest by the falls of Trees.” On the up side, the 1686 storm foiled a Spanish attack on Charles Town by destroying a galley and killing the commander. As they say, every cloud has a silver lining.
In that colonial agrarian culture, crops were due to be harvested during the late-summer storm season, hogs were slated for the slaughter, and fall fishing was the backbone of the local economy. If you survived a so-called “September gale,” your next challenge would be to survive the winter.
In 1700, “a dreadful hurricane happened at Charles Town which did great damage and threatened the total destruction of the Town, the lands on which it is built being low and level and not many feet above high water mark. The swelling sea rushed in with amazing impetuosity and obliged the inhabitants to fly to shelter.” A ship out of Glasgow, the Rising Sun, had just arrived with a boatload of settlers seeking to make new lives in the New World. It was dashed to splinters in the port with no survivors.
This is the kind of anecdotal evidence that constituted record keeping for centuries, derived from old letters and journals found in trunks stashed away in attics. If a storm stopped in briefly to inflict some minor property damage without decimating crops, destroying livestock and devastating ships at sea, its legacy clearly did not live on. Now that we know hurricanes strike our coast on average once every four years, we can safely assume that whatever early records survive are not telling the whole story.
Over the centuries, modern improvements have made forecasting hurricanes much easier, and Myrtle Beach is often spared the brunt of hurricanes, and the everyday weather of Myrtle Beach keeps visitors coming year after year. But from the early storms of centuries ago, to the infamous Hazel, to more recent storms like Floyd and Fran, hurricane historians always have an eye on the Grand Strand.