Andrea turned out more like a practice storm
Dress rehearsals notoriously go poorly.
But if Tropical Storm Andrea, the first named storm of the 2013 Atlantic Hurricane season, was Charleston's chance to prepare for bigger things on the horizon, it went about as smoothly as anyone could have hoped.
The peninsula saw more rain Monday and Tuesday during a string of severe thunderstorms than it did Friday, the National Weather Service confirmed. By contrast, Andrea felt like scattered showers, a whisper of wind.
Cathy Haynes, chief of operations for the Charleston County Emergency Management Department, conceded that the storm could have caused more problems than it actually did.
“It was a good little exercise to get the season in everyone's mind,” Haynes said.
But businesses and schools were braced for much worse. The Citadel and the College of Charleston delayed classes Friday morning. Trident Technical College and the Charleston School of Law canceled classes all day.
Andy Brack, a spokesman for the law school, said what administrators knew about the storm Friday afternoon was much different than what Thursday night forecasts suggested.
“The dean looked at the forecast, and through an abundance of caution, determined it would be safer to cancel classes,” Brack said. The cancellations affected fewer than 30 students, he said.
Ferries out to Fort Sumter were canceled all day and rough waves forced the county to temporarily suspend swimming at its three beach parks, but, mostly, it was business as usual by early afternoon. Charleston County Emergency Management Department had been operating on heightened alert but resumed normal operating conditions by noon.
The storm dropped only about 2 inches of rain throughout the region. Areas of Colleton County saw slightly more precipitation, up to 4 inches.
National Weather Service meteorologist Julie Packett said a pocket of dry air from the storm protected Charleston, Dorchester and Berkeley counties from more rain. Areas to the west, north and south of those counties did not fare as well, she said.
“We thankfully had a lot less rainfall than what we could have seen,” she said.
Tropical storm-force wind speeds tapered off as the day wore on, too. The National Weather Service registered the highest gusts on Sullivan's Island before daybreak at 48 mph and on Kiawah Island at 45 mph.
Wind across the region felled trees and branches and downed power lines, causing pockets of power outages, as many as 4,100 outages in Charleston County on Friday morning. Power was restored to the majority of those homes within hours.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicts that the Atlantic Hurricane season, which officially started June 1 and will run through November, will be “active or extremely active,” with a chance of 13 to 20 named storms.
“While the damage sustained from Tropical Storm Andrea was relatively minor, everyone should be mindful of the fact that now is the time to prepare,” said Jason Patno, director of the Charleston County Emergency Management Department, in a statement.
The Charleston County Emergency Management Department moved into a new facility earlier this year.
Haynes said Tropical Storm Andrea gave the department an “opportunity in a less stressful situation to see how it would all work out.”
Reach Lauren Sausser at 937-5598.