3 supercell thunderstorms blamed for Monday’s tornadoes, 9 S.C. deaths

VIDEO: 3 major storms blamed for multiple tornadoes, 9 S.C. deaths

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - As the National Weather Service continues to investigate storm damage reported across the state, it appears three supercell thunderstorms were responsible for the lines of deadly tornadoes Monday morning.

Live 5 Meteorologist Joey Sovine says a supercell thunderstorm is characterized by its ability to last for long periods of time while producing rotation that can lead to the formation of tornadoes.

The outbreak of severe weather began early Monday morning and has been blamed for at least nine deaths statewide.

Of the three major supercell thunderstorms, the deadliest likely spawned a tornado in Hampton County where five people died, Sovine said. That same storm then tracked toward the Walterboro area where another suspected tornado caused damage there. It created a possible tornado in the Moncks Corner area, and then produced at least three different confirmed tornadoes in Georgetown County before moving out to sea.

A second storm is blamed for a possible EF1 tornado, which would have winds of up to 100 mph, on Edisto Island. Teams from the National Weather Service are expected to confirm additional tornadoes later Tuesday as they study the damage.

The third storm produced multiple unconfirmed tornadoes including one in Orangeburg County blamed for two deaths in Neeses.

4 tornadoes confirmed so far

The National Weather Service will be out over the next few days investigating the damage from Monday’s storms. So far, it has confirmed four tornadoes, three in Georgetown County and one in Charleston County:

  • EF-1 near Sampit
  • EF-1 near Graves
  • EF-2 near Litchfield Beach
  • At least EF-1 (possibly an EF-2) on Edisto Island

Damage from the Edisto Island tornado will be surveyed Tuesday to determine the storm’s intensity.

Tornadoes are classified using the Enhanced Fujita Scale, which determines a storm’s rating based on a three-second gust in miles per hour:

Rating Three-Second Gust (mph)
EF-0 65-85 mph
EF-1 86-110 mph
EF-2 111-135 mph
EF-3 136-165 mph
EF-4 166-200 mph
EF-5 Over 200 mph

These are wind estimates based on damage.

Monday’s storms across South Carolina were part of the same severe weather outbreak that began on Easter in the Deep South. By Monday, the storms caused floods, mudslides and more than 1 million power outages. Officials say 11 died in Mississippi, and eight more died in Georgia, with other deaths reported in Arkansas and Tennessee.

Copyright 2020 WCSC. The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved.