National Weather Service graphic with information on where to go to shelter from a tornado (Photos courtesy of National Weather Service Columbia’s Twitter)

The National Weather Service is now saying Tropical Storm Nicole will bring gusty winds up to 45 mph, heavy rain and possible isolated tornadoes to the Midlands.

The biggest threats are tornadoes and nuisance flooding.The Midlands, the Upstate and parts of the Pee Dee are under a lake wind advisory until 7 p.m. Thursday. Rain is projected to start in the early afternoon Thursday. 

“The flash flood and flood risk is going to be the lower of the impacts,” said Leonard Vaughan, a service hydrologist and meteorologist at NWS. “The severe weather threat — which will be the tornado threat — that’s something that people would need to worry the most about.”

The tornado threat is greatest in the Orangeburg area. And though the threat will lessen slightly as Nicole nears Columbia, it won’t diminish until Nicole hits the Newberry, Greenville and Spartanburg area, Vaughan said. 

Tornadoes in tropical storms are tricky to spot because they’re often “wrapped up” in the rain, Vaughan said. This makes them more dangerous.

Derrec Becker from the S.C. The Emergency Management Division said everyone should “make sure their phones are fully charged,” so they can get wireless emergency alerts. 

Vaughan recommends making sure you have a way to get important information even while you’re sleeping. He said to use a weather radio or keep your phone on while sleeping to stay safe.

The window of tornado threats starts Thursday night and will last until the first half of tomorrow, Vaughan said. 

The other threat the Midlands will see is nuisance flooding, which is caused by fallen leaves clogging storm drains. South Carolina had an earlier fall this year than normal, leading to an increase in fallen leaves as the storm approaches. 

“A lot of localized flooding is caused by backed up storm drains,” Becker said. “People put (out) lawn clippings and branches and things, and they get backed up.” 

Becker urged Midlands residents to clear their storm drains, sweep away any debris around their house and take up their trash cans to avoid damage.

For coastal areas such as Charleston, Beaufort and Hilton Head, storm surges from 2 to 4 feet are still a threat, Vaughan said. A storm surge is water above ground beyond where the tide normally sits, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s website. 


A National Weather Service graphic details the storm’s timing and risks by location.

Different ways to get tornado warnings on Twitter from Columbia’s National Weather Service. The two most common ways to stay informed are by wireless phone updates from the weather service or a weather radio.


Caity Pitvorec

Caity Pitvorec

Pitvorec is a senior journalism major at the University of South Carolina. She enjoys breaking news and long-form lifestyle stories, recently reporting on a historic church’s new vision. She also has reported on numerous issues in Richland School District One. She plans to use her minor in law and society in her work to capture diverse issues affecting the community.

Grace Tippett

Grace Tippett

Tippett is a multimedia journalist at the University of South Carolina. She plans to attend law school and practice media law. Tippett runs the sorority recruitment process at USC. She has written about voter registration and housing for the student-run Daily Gamecock. Tippett has worked with Midlands Gives, a community-wide day of giving that raises funds for Midlands nonprofits. Her work this year helped them raise more than $3.7 million.