Frosty weather descends upon Lowcountry

Charleston City Marina dock hands Robert Cathcart (left) and Michael Tracy keep warm while preparing to launch a maintenance boat in the 34 degree wind Wednesday morning.

If you stepped outside to get this newspaper, you already know. It's crazy cold.

Records for low temperatures could have been set this morning downtown and at the National Weather Service office at Charleston International Airport. Before today, the records stood at 24 degrees downtown, 19 at the weather office. That's not even the worst of it. Even along the beaches, the wind chill is expected to drop farther into the teens — and maybe into single digits inland.

"It will be dangerously cold," said meteorologist Pete Mohlin with the National Weather Service in Charleston. The highs today will barely reach the 40s.

The beaches tonight get the first break from the frigid air. Winds will turn and come from slightly offshore, letting the residual warmth in the ocean waters insulate the tip of the coast. Temperatures will stay around freezing, while farther inland the thermometer drops again toward the teens.

By Friday, things will begin to warm up all around, with highs in the 50s, lows moving more toward freezing. By Saturday, it will be back in the 60s and feel like fall.

"We might even be pushing 70s again by next week," Mohlin said.

The cold took hold Wednesday morning with a blast of wind as a cloud like that of a thunderstorm swooped low over St. Stephen in upper Berkeley County and let go the unthinkable — snow. Flurries scattered for about 15 minutes, getting larger and larger until they abruptly vanished.

"It was pretty, but not enough to be real pretty," said Lillian Ballentine, town clerk. Flurries swept through the northern county, getting far enough to surprise people on the McClellanville docks in Charleston County. A little.

"About 10 flakes," said Joanne Jackson, of Carolina Seafood.