The hurricane had blown past by the Fourth of July on Friday, so a lot of people didn't think twice before heading outdoors on Saturday.
They ended up ducking for cover or digging in against wind gusts that were just about as fierce as what the Lowcountry felt from the passing storm. Gusts up to 30 mph out of the northeast kicked waves in the faces of people walking on the Battery. Beachgoers at Folly crouched against the sand blowing into their faces. Paddlers on the Kiawah River could barely make headway.
The wind might have felt like a last blast from the storm, but it wasn't, meteorologists said. It was just a weather front moving across with a tight gradient - a sudden change in air pressure that came howling.
"It was just a really breezy day," said meteorologist Emily Timte, with the National Weather Service, Charleston.
"It was awful," said Stacey Kelley, of North Charleston, who was caught in the blasts at Folly Beach. Buoyed by early forecasts saying the day would be summery, she had packed a big cooler for a full day in the sand with five other people, but the sand didn't stay put.
"We tried to walk but had to stay right at the surf where the sand was wet. Tried to at least sit in a chair, but the sand was just whipping around us," she said. People coming out of the surf could barely hang onto their boards, Kelley said.
The winds seemed to catch everybody a little by surprise. Late week forecasts by the Weather Service had called for a return to summer, if somewhat breezy, weather after the storm passed Thursday. By Saturday, forecasters had updated with a small craft advisory for winds in the estuaries. But on a holiday weekend, not everyone noticed.
"We weren't thinking too much about what to expect," said Tom LaPorte, of Charlotte, who was doused by waves on the Battery during a day trip to the Holy City. "It was certainly surprising. Just added to the fun - we were in a giddy mode anyway."
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