COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — More than 900 homes were damaged and 111 houses were destroyed by a series of tornadoes and strong winds that moved across the state Monday, emergency officials said.
Damage from the storms were reported in 21 counties, the South Carolina Emergency Management Division said Wednesday.
Meteorologists have determined at least 16 tornadoes hit the state Monday morning.
South Carolina had five of the nine strongest tornadoes in the outbreak of more than 80 twisters, which began Sunday in Texas. The five storms were rated EF-3, with winds as high as 165 mph (265 kph). They caused nine deaths — five in Hampton County, two in Orangeburg County and one each in Colleton and Oconee counties. It was the deadliest tornado outbreak in the state in 36 years.
The Hampton County storm was on the ground for 24 miles (39 kilometers), was three-quarters of a mile (1,200 meters) wide at its peak and had multiple smaller twisters inside the main tornado, which caused greater damage, the National Weather Service in Charleston said.
Just 4% of the tornadoes in South Carolina since 1950 have been as strong as the EF-3 tornadoes that struck Monday near Seneca, near Williston, near Estill, near Neeses and near Hilda in Barnwell County.
Gov. Henry McMaster declared a state of emergency Wednesday for the tornadoes, bidding to help local governments respond. McMaster said he would wait for counties to report all their damage before determining whether to ask for federal help.