While coastal counties in the Coastal Carolinas generally are not affected by tornadoes, inland parts of the WECT-TV viewing area are. On March 29, 1984, a tornado outbreak killed 57 people in both North and South Carolina, including 15 in our inland counties of Scotland, Hoke, Robeson, Cumberland, Sampson and Duplin. Severe thunderstorms (storms with winds greater than 58 mph and/or hail 3/4" or larger) affect all of the Coastal Carolinas.
A severe thunderstorm watch is issued when conditions are favorable for severe thunderstorms in and close to the watch area. If your county is not under a watch, but a nearby county is, don't let your guard down.
A severe thunderstorm warning is issued by the National Weather Service when doppler radar indicates a storm that's producing winds over 58 mph or hail 3/4" in diameter or larger.
A tornado watch is issued when conditions favorable for severe thunderstorms and tornadoes to develop in and close to the watch area.
A tornado warning is issued by the National Weather Service when doppler radar indicates a thunderstorm with strong rotation is present, meaning it's capable of producing a tornado at anytime, or when a tornado has been reported by a trained weather spotter.
The most common time of year for the Carolinas to experience thunderstorms capable of producing tornadoes is from March through May and then again in November. However, tornadoes can occur in any month.
Tornadoes are also possible when a tropical system affects the Carolinas. The tornadoes that can be produced by a tropical system are usually weak. Don't let that statement fool you though, even a weak tornado can produce big damage and even death.
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