2012 warm, but not record-setting for Beaufort County

tbarton@beaufortgazette.comJanuary 6, 2013 

The past year's weather brought record-setting heat to many parts of South Carolina.

But for Beaufort and Jasper counties, the temperatures were barely noteworthy, according to the National Weather Service in Charleston.

The average daily high temperature for the Savannah area -- which has the closest official weather station to Hilton Head Island and Beaufort at the Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport -- was 68.3 degrees, tied for the eighth warmest on record since 1874, according to data from the Nation Weather Service in Charleston.

The mercury at the Hilton Head Island and Lady's Island airports reached a sticky -- but not record-setting -- 99 degrees, according to the Southeast Regional Climate Center.

In fact, 2012 brought nothing like the stretch of 56 consecutive days of 90-degree temperatures or higher experienced in 2011. In 2012, the streak of 90-plus days got no longer than 17 days, according to the weather service.

"We saw a very warm year last year, but fell short of record-breaking temperatures, even with the ongoing heat wave," weather service meteorologist Julie Packett said. .

The heat was withering elsewhere around the state, however.

A June heat wave fueled one of the hottest years ever for the capital city -- Columbia set an all-time state high with a record 113 degrees on June 29, breaking the previous record of 111 degrees on Sept. 4, 1925, according to the climate center.

The city tied its official average daily temperature high of 66.5 degrees, matching the 1990 mark recorded at Columbia Metropolitan Airport. On the other side of town, average temperatures at the Clemson Sandhill station, which has records going back 65 years, reached an all-time high of 65.3 degrees.

Around the state, 2012 will go down as warmest ever in Anderson, second warmest at Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport, fifth warmest in Florence and seventh warmest at Charleston International Airport, according to the climate center.

This year is also shaping up to be warmer than normal, but slightly less parched than 2012, Packett said.

The weather service's Climate Prediction Center's three-month outlook calls for above-average temperatures through the end of January, before dropping closer to normal.

The center also predicts above-normal chances for average rainfall for the rest of January, which should ease drought conditions a bit, Packett said.

Beaufort and Jasper counties received about eight inches less than normal rainfall last year, placing it in moderate to severe drought.

About 40 inches of rain fell in the Savannah area in 2012, compared to 34.6 inches in 2011. The area normally receives almost 48 inches of rain, according to local climate data.

"The outlook for now for 2013: Don't expect the drought to worsen, and conditions may improve slightly, but don't expect it to be completely wiped away," Packett said. "It will take more than a month of normal rainfall to get out of drought conditions."

Follow reporter Tom Barton at twitter.com/IPBG_Tom. The (Columbia) State newspaper contributed to this report.

Related content:

Report of new all-time record max temp. for South Carolina: June 29, 2012

Oppressive heat and humidity lead to extreme drought, record temperatures expected to persist: July 23, 2011

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