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Hurricanes in Charleston SC How many and how often do they happen

Hurricanes in Charleston SC – How Many and How Often Do They Occur?

Hurricanes happen every year. The majority of them have little or no impact on South Carolina, let alone Charleston.

Since records have been kept 1851 through 2021, 309 Tropical Cyclones(TC) were tracked in the SC Warning Area (CWA). 171 years of record keeping.

Of the 309 TC in the area 17 made landfall in Charleston County with only 4 being Category 3 or above. Here’s a great resource for tropical storms and hurricanes in our area.

The last major storm was Hugo back in 1989. It was a Category 4 storm with sustained winds up to 140 mph. Hurricane Hugo made landfall across Sullivans Island with a storm surge of about 20 feet over mean tide. Coastal Awendaw & McClellaville sustained the most significant flooding.

Here’s the link for an informative table of recorded and historic tropical cyclone activity.

My families first storm was Hurricane Floyd in 1999. It was coming at South Carolina as a Cat 5 hurricane packing winds in excess of 157 mph. We were told to evacuate. Having had no experience and a family we packed and got on the road.

In 1999 the area was just starting to grow. The majority of the population had no idea where they were going or how to get there. I-26 was the major corridor, the only route out people knew. That highway was clogged and at a dead standstill for close to 14 hours. Thankfully the storm skirted the area with little impact. Many people spent the storm stuck on a highway.

The state and local governments recognized they needed a new plan due to the growing population. The instituted a reverse land policy. The East bound lanes on I-26 are closed and westbound traffic is allowed to travel away from the city to safer ground.

As for the Flanagan Family back in 1999, we took our two cars, two cats, 1 daughter and headed for Columbia to pick up Daughter #1 at The University of SC.

Thankfully, my sales job at the time took me through many backroads out of Charleston. It was still slow going, yet it wasn’t a standstill. We made Columbia, about 110 miles, in 6 hours, picked up my daughter and started searching for a place to stay… Anniston, Alabama was the place, but that’s another story.

The chance of a direct major hurricane hit is slim. There is always enough warning to pack your home and leave for a few days. The barrier islands will take a lot of the energy out of the storm, yet it’s still dangerous with rising tides, and high winds blowing older trees and testing newer home construction.

If you’re looking to purchase in the South Carolina please visit our website or contact me with any questions you may have.

Greg Flanagan, Broker/Realtor, is the owner of, a real estate team affiliated with Keller Williams Charleston/West Ashley.

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