Mount Pleasant Magazine Nov/Dec 2023

23 | | – one in January and an even more severe one just weeks later which brought a third of an inch of freezing rain. That one forced the authorities to close the Ravenel Bridge when giant icicles hung on the bridge’s cables and later fell onto unsuspecting vehicles. Even though such occurrences might (thankfully) be the exception rather than the norm for our area, early European settlers in the Lowcountry found that their new home would have its trials and tribulations during the winter. A local newspaper, the South Carolina Gazette, reported on Jan. 2, 1737, that frozen ponds and creeks were covered with a layer of ice 3 inches thick. But winter storms don’t confine themselves to January, often considered the coldest month of the year. On Feb. 12, 1899, a severe blizzard blasted most of the Southeast, including the Lowcountry. Temperatures here plummeted to 7 degrees F and 4 inches of snow blanketed our area. Another February storm occurred in 1934. Lowcountry resident Yvonne Kanapaux said her parents got married on Feb. 10 during that ice storm. She remembered being told that her father had always jokingly predicted that “it would be a cold day in hell when he got married!” And February 1973 brought a record snowfall of 7 inches. Some locals seized that opportunity to use the old Cooper River Bridge as a ski slope. The winter of 1784 proved to be a particularly bizarre set of weather anomalies. Due to the El Nino effect ushering in unusually cold temperatures to eastern North America coupled with the effects of an atmospheric low caused by a volcanic eruption in Iceland, frigid water temperatures froze up Charleston Harbor. It was reported at the time that some daring local residents ice skated on the surface of the harbor. Hard to imagine, but fact or fiction, it does allude to an extreme weather event. Snow and icicles adorning the Palmetto State’s namesake trees might make for an interesting holiday photo replacing the iconic images of snow that appear on commercially produced Christmas cards – scenes that Lowcountry residents have never been able to relate to anyway. But when Old Man Winter pays a visit to our area, it’s not exactly picture-perfect. So this holiday season, just be careful what you wish for! our town Timeline of Winter Storms • 1737 – 3 inches of ice cover local ponds and creeks • 1784 – El Nino and frigid water temps create ice floes in Charleston Harbor • 1899 – Blizzard blasts the Southeast, bringing 4 inches of snow and single-digit temps • 1934 – Winter storm hits the area with ice and freezing temperatures • 1973 – 7 inches of snowfall provide a skiing opportunity on the slope of the old Cooper River Bridge • 1989 – 8 inches of snow give area residents a white Christmas • 2011 – An inch of ice covers the area • 2014 – Two ice storms hit just weeks apart producing dangerous icicles on the Ravenel Bridge • 2018 – 5 inches of snow fall with several days of high temps in the teens