Myrtle Beach Tornadoes - July 6, 2001


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During the late afternoon of July 6, 2001, two tornadoes occurred in portions of North Myrtle Beach and Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. A Special Marine Warning was issued for the coastal waters adjacent to Horry County at 3:38 pm. This warning was in effect due to large thunderstorms drifting south along the coastline. The potential for waterspouts was mentioned in the warning.

The first reports were actually of flooding rains and came in around 4:00 pm. At 4:20 pm, the Myrtle Beach police department informed us they were checking on reports of damage, however at this time it was believed the damage was caused by lightning rather than wind.

Between 4:25 and 4:30 pm, several reports of tornadoes in Myrtle Beach were received at the National Weather Service. A Tornado Warning was issued for Horry County at 4:33 pm. At 4:34 pm, weather observations from the Myrtle Beach airport included mention of a tornado moving southwest near the end of the runway. Tower personnel reported seeing the funnel surrounded by a debris cloud.

Many people saw this tornado, and excellent video was obtained by several TV stations and by dozens of vacationers. Their videos show the funnel moving slowly across the beachfront surrounded by a varying cloud of debris and dust. Flashes of light were visible as power lines arced in the winds. Damage was widespread across portions of Myrtle Beach and a small portion of North Myrtle Beach. Luckily, there were NO serious injuries and no deaths directly attributable to the storm.

A preliminary damage assessment was performed during the evening of July 6th and revealed damage to many buildings, signs, utility poles, and vehicles. The magnitude of the damage suggests F2 strength for the tornado, which corresponds to peak wind speeds of 113 to 157 mph. Many automobiles and multi-story motels had their windows blown out. Several structures had damage to their roofs and stucco walls, and one wooden structure had its roof completely removed. Power lines were down and some large billboards were damaged. The power of the wind was very evident when several vehicles were actually flipped over by the tornadoes, including two tourist trolleys. The most concentrated damage occurred in the vicinity of the Myrtle Beach pavilion, although more spotty damage occurred for miles north along the coastline.

This storm occurred during the busy Fourth of July week when nearly 400,000 vacationers are at Myrtle Beach. Reports indicated up to thirty-six people were taken by ambulance to area hospitals for only minor injuries. Damage from this tornado is preliminarily estimated at $8,000,000. Damage to automobiles accounts for over $1,000,000 of that total. At the height of the storm, 4,000 Myrtle Beach residents were without power.




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Page created July 6, 2001
Last modified July 14, 2001