National Weather Service Office Charleston                          January, 1998                      Volume 1, Issue 6
5777 S. Aviation Ave. Charleston, SC 29406                           Editor- Robert Crapulli
843-744-0303 Spotter reports..... 800-897-0823                      Internet:


The staff here at the weather service office in Charleston greatly appreciate the efforts that you the spotter make in getting information to us in as timely a fashion as humanly possible. We at the National Weather Service also realize that spotters are asked to report information based only on observations and without instrumentation, which sometimes makes it difficult to accurately assess the actual conditions. Low visibility due to blinding rain, lightning, and wind can also make observing difficult at times. The following will help you determine if an event qualifies as "severe" or "non-severe" as defined by the National Weather Service.


Speed (mph) Effects

25-31................Large branches in motion; whistling in telephone wires.(NON-SEVERE)
32-38................Whole trees in motion (NON-SEVERE)
39-54................Twigs break off of trees; wind impedes walking. (NON-SEVERE)
55-72................Damage to chimneys; knocks shallow rooted trees down. (SEVERE)
73-112..............Peels surface off roofs; windows broken; trailer houses overturned.(SEVERE)
113+.................Roofs torn off houses; buildings & trailer houses destroyed; large trees uprooted.

HAIL ESTIMATES (Inches) When reporting keep in mind the four W's.

Pea.................0.25 (NON-SEVERE up to 0.74)                       1.) What you saw.
Dime...............0.75 (SEVERE)                                               2.) Where you saw it.
Quarter...........1.00 (SEVERE)                                                3.) When you saw it.
Half Dollar.......1.25 (SEVERE)                                                 4.) What it was doing (i.e. 
Golf Ball..........1.75 (SEVERE)                                                     movement of the event.) 
Tennis Ball......2.50 (SEVERE)
Baseball..........2.75 (SEVERE)


Also please remember to give your spotter number or your address in order for your report to be properly coordinated with activity on radar.

While a dollar figure can be attached to a radar, you the spotter are priceless. There is no substitute for a real-time report. Never assume that one of your nearby fellow spotters has already called in a report when severe weather is occurring. Further, even if an event is considered non-severe do not hesitate to call. Information that the spotter provides can save lives and can also prevent the weather service from "crying wolf". It is vital that we get as many accurate reports as possible.

Area Weather Summary

September - Dry conditions which began early in August continued into the first two weeks of September. Temperatures were normal for the month. Rainfall usually results from the almost daily occurrence of afternoon thunderstorms but strong upper level winds, partially due to El Nino, limited their development. Coastal areas received the most precipitation. By mid-month, the pattern changed. Several days ended with over an inch of much needed rainfall. The 24th - 28th put an end to the dry weather as flood watches were issued. Amounts ranged from almost four inches in Metter, GA, to over nine inches at Edisto Beach, SC. Most of eastern SC saw three to five inches, while southeast GA reported lesser amounts. Severe weather was minimal for the month. On September 24th we received a report of a downed tree in Hendersonville, SC, and of downed power lines in Beaufort, SC. It was a very quiet month in the tropics. Only one storm, Erica, became a Hurricane in the Atlantic Ocean and it posed only a minimal threat to the islands in the eastern Caribbean Sea.

October -There were two tropical storms this month. Fabian formed southeast of Bermuda on the 8th, and dissipated the next day. Grace became a tropical storm on the 16th and weakened shortly thereafter. The first half of the month was rather warm and summer-like as most days were at least five degrees above normal. The second half cooled off considerably and average temperatures were almost a degree below normal for the month. Astronomically high spring tides that happen twice a year combined with a low pressure system on the 16th to produce minor tidal flooding for several days. The last week put an end to a normally quiet time of year. A cool and very wet weather pattern set up along the Gulf Coast and Southeast US. The four-day period ending the 27th saw another deluge of rainfall. About two inches fell in the Charleston area, while three to four inches fell in Savannah. We received a severe weather report on the 24th of nickel size hail in Cottageville, SC. Two days later thunderstorm winds knocked down trees in Ludowici and Darien, GA. Nickel-size hail was also reported in Darien. October drew to a close and unfortunately it was a wet Halloween for trick-or-treaters.

November -Temperature readings averaged three to four degrees below normal for most of the month. Only a few days were above normal as the final days of November were significantly warmer than average. The month also ended on a wet note. Precipitation totals were slightly above normal in Charleston, while they were almost three inches above normal in Savannah. The only severe weather occurred on the 1st of the month. Nickel size hail fell in Tattnall County, GA. There were also reports of several large tree limbs down in Oliver, GA. Half dollar size hail fell in Kildare, GA. The first Arctic airmass of the season arrived early, on November 16th. It was responsible for freezing temperatures deep into northern Florida. Charleston and Savannah both recorded lows of 30 degrees. Only areas along the coast were spared. A few days later readings were in the lower 80s inland from the coast. We finished up a very quiet 1997 Hurricane season with no hurricanes or tropical storms in November.

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December - It was a wet month throughout the region and temperatures were near normal. There were several days with readings in the 70s. High temperatures of 78 and 76 degrees in Savannah and Charleston on the 10th fell a few degrees short of establishing new records. 2.30 inches of rain fell at Charleston on Christmas Eve, but sunny and unseasonably warm conditions allowed for a pleasant Christmas Day with readings in the lower 70s.


Area Weather Statistics

CHS = Charleston International Airport
SAV = Savannah International Airport

           Hi    /   Low   /   Mean    (Departure)   Rain    (Departure)
CHS   84.8 /     67.1   /      76.0      (-0.4)             9.58      (+4.85)  SAV   86.7  /    67.1  /       76.9     (+0.3)             5.33      (+0.86)
CHS    75.4  /   56.5  /        66.0      (-0.8)            4.12       (+1.22)
SAV    76.6  /   56.6  /        66.6      (-0.7)            5.65       (+3.26)
CHS    65.5   /   44.8  /       55.2       (-3.2)            3.26       (+0.77)
SAV    65.7  /    44.5  /       56.1       (-4.0)            5.04       (+2.85) ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
CHS    59.5  /   40.2  /       49.9     (-1.3)            5.19       (+2.04)
SAV    60.1  /   40.9  /       50.5     (-1.2)            3.99       (+1.03)

1997 Hurricane Season

1. Tropical Storm Anna: 6/30-7/3. Maximum strength: 45mph. Formed southeast of Cape Hatteras, NC.
2. Hurricane Bill: 7/11-7/12. Maximum strength: 75mph. Passed near Bermuda.
3. Tropical Storm Claudette: 7/13-7/16. Maximum strength: 45mph. Second storm to form off the Southeast Atlantic coast.
4. Hurricane Danny: 7/16-7/26. Maximum strength: 80mph. Formed over western Gulf of Mexico. Reformed off NC coast and moved up to New England as a tropical storm. Only storm to have weather influence on the United States.
5.Hurricane Erica: 9/3-9/15. Maximum strength: 125mph. Formed near Lesser Antilles and ended up in far eastern Atlantic.
6. Tropical Storm Fabian: 10/7-10/8. Maximum strength: 45mph. Formed east-southeast of Bermuda.
7. Tropical Storm Grace: 10/16-10/17. Maximum strength: 45 mph. Formed from an old Atlantic storm west of the Azores.


El Nino

El Nino conditions have been occurring since late summer and are expected to peak around Christmas time and slowly subside by late winter and early spring.

Everyone is talking about El Nino these days in newspaper and magazine articles, and in special television news programs. Weather forecasters often refer to it on a daily basis. It seems that almost everything that happens weatherwise is being attributed to El Nino.

What is El Nino? Briefly defined, El Nino refers to an area of unusually warm water around the Equator in the Pacific Ocean, just west of South America. In most years this area of water lies in the central and western equatorial waters of the Pacific. Every few years the easterly winds diminish or stop blowing towards the west, and the waters warm. As the area of above normal seawater temperatures expands, upper level airflow patterns are affected worldwide for several months after. Weather patterns across the globe change and the storm tracks and intensity are different from that of a non El Nino pattern.

What type of weather is in store for us this Winter? For the period January - March, 1998, there is nearly a 50% chance for below normal temperatures and about a 15% chance for above normal temperatures. For precipitation, the odds are 45% for above, and 13% for below normal. These numbers are valid for eastern South Carolina and Georgia. The Southeastern US can anticipate a wetter and cooler than normal winter. The most noticeable effect in the Southeast US relates to the lack of tropical strom formation in the Atlantic Ocean as seen in 1997.

The active storm track is expected to continue throughout the southern US from California to Texas and eastward to the Atlantic coast. Expect this pattern to continue through the winter months. In other parts of the world the effects are more catastrophic. Droughts are widespread in India, Southeast Asia, and especially Australia. Forest fires are currently creating massive smog and haze conditions in this part of the world. Poor crop harvests lead to famine. In South America the mountains along the west coast receive more snow and rainfall than usual. Mudslides and avalanches are the result. The same is true for the western US...especially for California where precautions have been taken for this coming winter's rainfall. Drier and

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warmer than normal conditions will affect the northern and central US this winter, which may not be such a bad thing after all.

Spotter Training Opportunities

Severe Weather Season will soon be here. Are you ready? NWSO Charleston will conduct spotter training at the Charleston office which is located at 5777 S. Aviation Ave, near the FAA Control Tower and Air Force Base. All classes will begin at 630 pm unless otherwise noted.

We can accommodate up to 25 maximum, per class. We ask that you call and register for one of the dates listed below. Space available will be based on first come first serve up to 25 for each session. You may use the same numbers to register as you use to report severe weather 1-800-897-0823 or 554-0197 locally.

Dates available are as follows for training at the Charleston Office:

January 22th and 26th; February 2nd and 18th -
Basic/intermediate classes, for first timers and those
who have not attended at least two (2) previous
training sessions.

March 2 -Advanced class. You must have
completed at least two previous sessions in order to attend this class.

Outside the Charleston Office:

January 15- Basic/intermediate class in Walterboro at 630 pm. Call Suzanne Gant, EMA at 803-549-5632 to register for this class and to obtain location.

NOTE: If any emergency manager or any other group would like to schedule a training session in your town, please contact me so that we can arrange it.


Quarterly Spotter Reports

1. NancyPhillips...................Charleston
2. William Blanton................Colleton
3. Larry Kronman.................Colleton
4. Chris Acklin......................Charleston
5. Rodney Johnson...............Berkeley
6 Winfield Simons.................Colleton
7. John Soprano Jr...............Colleton
8. Delmer Rowe...................Charleston
9. Sonny Singletary...............Berkeley
10. Edisto Beach Park Rangers

Thanks to the weather spotters who provided us with valuable reports for the period September through December, 1997. We at the Charleston National Weather Service Office hope you enjoyed a festive Holiday Season and we look forward to hearing from you in 1998.

Is it necessary to receive a paper copy of this Newsletter, if you are already accessing it over the Internet? The NWS is trying to reduce paper costs and we would appreciate hearing from you. Please email all comments to:

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