MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WBTW) — The National Hurricane Center marks Sept. 10 as the peak of hurricane season.
According to the South Carolina State Climatology Office, the Grand Strand and Pee Dee areas have experienced four major storms since 1893.
More than 100 years ago, South Carolina was hit by one of the first major hurricanes the Department of Natural Resources Climate Office considers today. The storm was never officially named, but it’s known now as the “Great Sea Islands Hurricane of 1893.”
The three other major hurricanes are Hazel in 1954, Gracie in 1959 and Hugo in 1989. All three were Category 4 storms.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported in 1954 that Hazel demolished every pier along 170 miles of coastline between Myrtle Beach and the Outer Banks in North Carolina.
The Carolinas also faced $163 million in damages.
“If you want to count the worst one of all for the Pee Dee region and the Grand Strand, I would have to say that’s probably Hazel back in 1954,” said Frank Strait, a severe weather liaison for the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources. “That actually made landfall kind of right on the edge of Horry County.”
Strait said Hugo was the last major hurricane to hit the Grand Strand. NOAA reported that Hugo cut Pawleys Island in two, creating a new inlet and damaging many homes. It also destroyed 90% of the homes, hotels and condos in Garden City.
While Hazel had the biggest impact on the Grand Strand, Strait said Hugo left its mark across South Carolina.
“[Hugo] probably was the strongest of the four major hurricanes that have made landfall in South Carolina,” he said.
More recent hurricanes, like Ian and Florence, caused damage to many parts of Horry County. NOAA said more than 100 people in Loris had to be rescued from flooded homes.
Another notable hurricane, Matthew in 2016, caused damage to both the Springmaid and Surfside Beach piers.
Strait said the current Atlantic hurricane season is more active than usual when compared with previous years. There have been five hurricanes so far, and there are usually about seven by the end of each season.
“We have an El Nino going on now and that tends to result in less favorable conditions, though we seem to have a pretty active season going on now for hurricanes,” Strait said.
Strait said 2020 was a record season, with 30 storms named in total. He also added that South Carolina has never had a Category 5 hurricane make landfall.
Adrianna Lawrence is a multimedia journalist at News13. Adrianna is originally from Virginia Beach, Virginia, and joined the News13 team in June 2023 after graduating from Virginia Commonwealth University in May 2023. Keep up with Adrianna on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. You can also read more of her work, here.