Chances are increasing that the Lowcountry could see snow Wednesday — marking a very rare event for the South Carolina coast.
A winter storm warning has been issued from Wednesday morning through the evening. James Carpenter, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Charleston, said Beaufort County should expect 1 to 3 inches of snow by the end of the day. Schools and daycares across the Lowcountry have already announced Wednesday closings.
According to the weather service, Hilton Head Island, Hunting Island, and Daufuskie Island have the highest chance of seeing snow in Beaufort County between 10 a.m. Wednesday and 1 a.m. Thursday. Hilton Head Island has a 66 percent chance of seeing more than 1 inch of snow tomorrow, while Hunting Island has a 75 percent chance and Bluffton has a 46 percent chance of seeing more than 1 inch of snow.
“Tomorrow has the potential to be a significant and rare event,” Carpenter said Tuesday afternoon.
It’s been eight years since the Lowcountry saw at least 3 inches of snow, according to the weather service. In February, 2010, Beaufort received 3 inches of snow — the biggest snowstorm in more than a decade, with some areas of Charleston seeing over 4 inches of snow.
However, February, 2014 was the last time a winter storm with freezing rain, sleet, and a dusting of snow hit the Lowcountry hard enough to close down Hilton Head bridges for several hours.
The Christmas storm of 1989 was the last significant winter storm in the Lowcountry — shattering many snowfall records across the Carolinas, according to the National Weather Service. Charleston received more than 7 inches of snow, while Beaufort saw 5 inches, according to the National Weather Service.
To put that into perspective, there have been eight total snowfall events in Beaufort County in the last 53 years, according to SCDNR data. The county has a 9 percent chance of seeing snow every year and only has seen five years on record with snowfall over .1 inches.
Authorities are warning travelers to keep their eye on the weather throughout Thursday.
“Any amount of snow will be will be significant since we’re in the South,” Michael Stroz, National Weather Service meteorologist said Tuesday.
Here’s the latest forecast for Beaufort County.