Most of South Carolina could see strong to severe storms Thursday afternoon and into the evening, the National Weather Service says.
A severe thunderstorm watch has been issued for the entire state of South Carolina, along with parts of Georgia and North Carolina that includes Atlanta and Charlotte, the NWS in Columbia tweeted.
There’s a threat of possible ping pong-size hail, frequent lightning and powerful wind, the NWS warned.
Storms will start in the Upstate around 1 p.m. and spread to the east, according to the state Climate Office. “Isolated strong to severe thunderstorms are fair game for the State 2-10 p.m. Primary threat will be 50-70 mph wind gusts mixing down to the surface from the stronger cells,” the Climate Office said Thursday.
A 56 mph wind gust was recorded at Columbia Metropolitan Airport just before 4:30 p.m., NWS Columbia tweeted.
In the Upstate, forecasters said, heavy rain will move in with possible cloud-to-ground lightning.
“Thunderstorms will develop around mid-day and become quite strong or severe through the afternoon as they move east. Some of these storms will be capable of producing large hail, damaging winds, and a tornado or two is not out of the question,” the Weather Service warned for western South Carolina.
The severe weather threat for the Midlands area is from 2 p.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday, according to the NWS in Columbia.
“Numerous showers and thunderstorms are expected this afternoon and evening, some of which could become severe. The primary severe weather hazards will be damaging straight-line winds and large hail,” forecasters warned.
There’s a small craft advisory in effect for the Grand Strand and severe thunderstorms are “likely late this afternoon to mid evening,” the National Weather Service said.
In the Lowcountry, forecasters with the National Weather Service in Charleston said severe weather could move through the area between 4 p.m. and 10 p.m. “Some thunderstorms could become severe with damaging wind gusts and large hail this afternoon into evening,” according to the NWS.
The most likely timing for severe weather is from 2-4 p.m. in the western part of the state, from 4-6 p.m. in the Midlands and 6-8 p.m. in the Lowcounty, according to a NWS tweet.
As the storm moves east, it brings a 45 percent chance of severe winds for most of South Carolina, the NWS in Columbia said on Twitter.