Innovative On Site Decision Support To The State of South Carolina Before, During and After Hurricane Matthew
Richard Okulski, NOAA/NWS, Columbia, SC
John Quagliarello, NOAA/NWS
Michael Proud, NOAA/NWS
Leonard Vaugh, NOAA/NWS

Hurricane Matthew lashed the entire South Carolina coastline with wind gusts in excess of 80 mph and four to six foot inundation from storm surge.   This hurricane proved to be the most significant in the region since Hurricane Hugo (1989) and caused Governor Haley to order the first full scale evacuation of the state’s coastline since Hurricane Floyd in 1999.  

WFO Columbia had never deployed a meteorologist to the State Emergency Operations Center (SEOC) until Tropical Storm Hermine the previous month and the office’s new management team had to quickly establish a deep trust with state government leadership in the months leading up to “Matthew.”   South Carolina State Emergency Management requested a  meteorologist at the SEOC on October 3, 2016 (five days prior to landfall) and the Columbia office maintained at least one staff member “on site” through October 12 (four days after landfall).   Governor Haley kept Warning Coordination Meteorologist John Quagliariello by her side during all news conferences and executive decision briefings.  

This presentation will cover the innovative methods WFO Columbia utilized to present a common operating picture for the Governor and State Emergency Management during the most significant tropical cyclone of this generation.  Some of the methods included the deployment of three meteorologists 24/7 at the SEOC, collaborated “one pager” briefings from all the WFOs which serve the state, and the direct involvement in state level scenario contingency planning and the resulting impacts on the citizens of South Carolina.