Hate this cold? Get ready for a return to the 70s

Most Lowcountry counties woke up Christmas morning to the second wind chill advisory in a row. It remains in effect until 10 a.m.
Published: Dec. 21, 2022 at 3:36 PM EST|Updated: Dec. 25, 2022 at 12:37 PM EST
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - While most Lowcountry counties woke up to a wind chill advisory for the second morning in a row on Christmas Day, a big warmup is on the way.

The National Weather Service issued the advisory Saturday night for Charleston, Berkeley, Dorchester, Colleton and Beaufort Counties until 10 a.m. with expected wind chill values as low as zero far inland and as low as 8 to 14 degrees along the coast.

But winds weren’t as strong on Sunday morning as they had been on Saturday, and wind chill values across the Lowcountry ranged from 21 in Moncks Corner, Kingstree and McClellanville to 15 on Johns Island and Kiawah Island.

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A Wind Chill Advisory means that very cold air and strong winds will combine to generate low wind chills. This will result in frostbite and lead to hypothermia if precautions are not taken. Use caution while traveling outside. Wear appropriate clothing, a hat and gloves.

Locations across the Lowcountry were within a few degrees of all-time record lows on Christmas Eve morning after an unusually strong Arctic cold front moved in Friday.

If you are ready for a warmup, however, there is good news in the forecast. Live 5 Meteorologist Chris Holtzman said temperatures will begin rising on Christmas Day to a high around 40. That will start a warming trend over the course of the week that will bring highs into the 70s by next weekend, he said.

Saturday morning temperatures nearly set new records

Live 5 Chief Meteorologist Bill Walsh said Saturday’s record low at the Charleston International Airport stands at 16 degrees while the record downtown stands at 20. The Lowcountry woke up on Christmas Eve morning to temperatures just above those figures, but not by much.

Temperatures around the area as of 6 a.m. Saturday ranged from 20 degrees in McClellanville and Kiawah Island down to 17 in Kingstree and 16 in Orangeburg.

The wind chill, or “feels like” temperature, however, dropped those figures to single digits for many areas. Summerville and Georgetown reported a wind chill of 7, while Goose Creek, Johns Island and Kiawah Island listed a 6-degree wind chill. North Charleston’s stood at 5 and in Walterboro and Orangeburg, it felt like just 3 degrees outside.

The drastic drop in temperatures from Friday morning’s high of the low 50s followed the combination of an Arctic cold front which chilled most of the nation and gusty winds driving the single-digit wind chills.

Experts advised those traveling by car this weekend to keep their phones charged, pack extra clothes and blankets and bring extra food in case they become stranded.

They also urged people to bring pets inside and provide adequate shelter for livestock, and to protect outside faucets and pipes before the cold temperatures arrive.

The National Weather Service said people should avoid outside activities if possible, but that those who must go outside should dress warmly in coats, gloves and hats.

Christmas morning expected to be the coldest since year of Hurricane Hugo

In the Lowcountry, Walsh said the winds will begin to calm down on Christmas Eve with sunny skies and highs only in the upper 30s, about 25 degrees below average for late December.

Low temperatures will be in the 20s again Saturday night.

Sovine said Sunday will be the coldest Christmas morning since 1989, the year Hurricane Hugo devastated the Charleston area. It will also likely be the third-coldest Christmas in 85 years, he said.

Christmas Day should be dry and sunny but the high temperature will only reach the low to mid-40s.

The team declared Friday and Saturday “First Alert Weather Days” this past Sunday to alert people to the big drop in temperatures.