The 2015 storm that shattered South Carolina's records — 1-in-1000-year event

·2 min read
The 2015 storm that shattered South Carolina's records — 1-in-1000-year event
The 2015 storm that shattered South Carolina's records — 1-in-1000-year event

This Day In Weather History is a daily podcast by Chris Mei from The Weather Network, featuring stories about people, communities and events and how weather impacted them.

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In October 2015, a North American storm complex brought extreme rain and historic flash flooding to areas across Atlantic Canada and the eastern United States, especially South Carolina.

The storm started as a cold front on Sept. 29. On Oct. 2, the system stalled near the Florida–Georgia border. The system met with moisture from Hurricane Joaquin, which was over the Bahamas. The moisture in the air interacted with a surface low, frontal boundary and an upper-level low, creating torrential rain over South Carolina.

1280px-Columbia, South Carolina, October 5, 2015, levee breach
1280px-Columbia, South Carolina, October 5, 2015, levee breach

*"A levee breach near Columbia, S.C., on Oct. 5."

South Carolina received one-in-1000-year event levels of rain. Boone Hall reported 615 mm of rain. The storm knocked out power for almost 30,000 people across the state. On Oct. 1, a woman drowned in Spartanburg after her car was carried away in the floods.

On Oct. 2, a plane crashed in South Carolina, killing all four people aboard (not 100 per cent associated with stormy conditions). On Oct. 3, the floods completely overwhelmed the Charleston Historic District, bringing the area to a halt.

Across the state, around 104 roads flooded and 500 accidents were reported. The floods caused a total of 19 deaths in South Carolina.

1280px-South Carolina National Guard Prepares for Hurricane Joaquin
1280px-South Carolina National Guard Prepares for Hurricane Joaquin

"The South Carolina National Guard loading up sandbags for distribution across the state on Oct. 3." Courtesy of Wikipedia

On Oct. 4, Gills Creek in Columbia quickly reached 5.21 m and then the river gauge failed. This broke the previous record of 2.87 m set in July 1997. North Carolina's Emergency Management Division tweeted, "... remain where you are if you are safely able to do so." And later, it shared, "Remain. Where. You. Are. Dangerous flooding conditions throughout the state for most of the day.

During the storm, 18 dams either collapsed or flooded. On Oct. 5, areas downstream of the Overcreek Dam were issued a mandatory evacuation.

In total, the storm caused $2 billion worth of damage.

To learn more about the October 2015 North American storm complex, listen to today's episode of "This Day In Weather History."

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