Discover the South Carolina Town Most Likely to Be Hit by a Tornado

Storm clouds rolling in over Lake Huron
In His Image/Shutterstock.com

Written by Kristen Holder

Updated: July 24, 2023

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South Carolina is the twentieth most likely state in the USA to be hit by a tornado. The state as a whole has a Tornado Index of 136.91, but what town is most at risk? We’ll discover the South Carolina town most likely to be hit by a tornado now.

The South Carolina Town Most Likely to Be Hit by a Tornado

McColl in South Carolina has a Tornado Index of 198.38 according to USA.com.

McColl in South Carolina has a Tornado Index of 198.38, according to USA.com.

McColl, with a population of just over 2400 people, is the town in South Carolina that is most likely to be hit by a tornado. It has a Tornado Index of 198.38, which is well above the total state’s number. This means that more tornadoes happen in the town of McColl than in most other parts of the state.

There were 30 tornadoes in South Carolina in 2022 out of over 1300 twisters that occurred across the nation. This means that South Carolina’s total tornado count was less than 3 percent of the national 2022 total. None of these 30 tornadoes occurred in the town of McColl.

Where is McColl, South Carolina?

Welcome to South Carolina sign at the state border

The town of McColl is about 8 miles from the North Carolina border.

McColl is an 8-mile drive from the North Carolina border in Marlboro County. The county lies in an area known as the Pee Dee region. This region contains the lower watershed of the Pee Dee River.

McColl was established in 1884 because a railroad depot was created at its location. This railroad building was the first ever built in the town. McColl’s train gave farmers in the county the ability to transport products to Wilmington, NC, which was the nearest port. There is still a train on part of these tracks that services fertilizer, feed, paper, particle board, and other industrial operations.

Sizeable cotton production took place around McColl, so textile mills and trade boomed for a time over 100 years ago. When the majority of the mills closed after World War II, the town’s population declined. Because of this, McColl turned into the sleepy town it is today.

Notable Tornadoes in McColl, South Carolina

Bridge Creek Tornado

An EF4 tornado tore through McColl, SC, after 7 pm on March 28, 1984.

March 28 1984, was a clear spring day until around 7 pm when a severe storm blew into Marlboro County. Just a few minutes after the tornado sirens blared, heavy hail, wind, and rain overtook the area. Without much warning, tornadoes touched down and caused significant damage. 

On March 28, 1984, two EF4 tornadoes with winds up to 200 miles per hour barrelled through Marlboro County as a part of a string of tornadoes that plagued the state. EF4 tornadoes are rare, and they are representative of about 1 percent of all tornadoes that touch down in the United States. When one of the huge tornadoes in 1984 moved north over the border into North Carolina, it was about 2 miles wide.

The second EF4 tornado of the day is the one that ripped through McColl. Before it dissipated near Parkton, North Carolina, it killed 280 people after hitting at least 5 towns. Red Springs, North Carolina, was obliterated by the storm as almost all of the buildings in town were destroyed.

6 McColl residents died that day, including Colin LaBean, who was only 2 years old. The storm caused so much damage that the high school in McColl became a shelter for those displaced by the devastation.

Wildlife Affected by Tornadoes Near McColl, South Carolina

Cotton Mouse (peromyscus gossypinus)

Cotton mice repopulate areas hit by tornadoes because they are covered in coarse woody debris.

When violent storms tear through the landscape, the natural environment is devastated. Wildlife that was affected by the tornadoes near McColl, South Carolina, was not permanently damaged, however. In the regions around the border between North and South Carolina, wildlife responds to habitat destruction in similar ways when confronted with the same disaster.

When the trees of the forests in the Carolinas are damaged by excessive winds, the clearings created are repopulated through seedlings, and the sprouting of destroyed stems laying on the ground. The coarse woody debris left behind by fallen vegetation encourages small animals like cotton mice (Peromyscus gossypinus) and short-tailed shrews (Blarina carolinensis) to repopulate the area.

Burrowing animals are the least affected by tornadoes as individuals close to home can hide underground. Little non-burrowing animals have a better chance of weathering a tornado because they can cram themselves into tiny hiding spaces. Larger animals instinctually seek out dips in the landscape like ditches to avoid debris.

If birds aren’t aware of an incoming storm and they don’t fly out of the region, they grip branches tightly with their feet. This allows them to anchor their body to a branch as they hunker down. They can stay like this for a long time, and their grip is very strong.

Native American History and McColl, South Carolina

Largest Rivers in North Carolina - Pee Dee River

McColl in South Carolina is in the Pee Dee region, which is part of the Pee Dee River system.

The Pee Dee region contains Marlboro County and McColl. It is named after the Native American tribe and culture that dominated the region for centuries. Due to disease, slavery, violence, and discrimination, the remaining Pee Dee numbers are small, but cultural conservation efforts are being put in place.

A Mvskoke dialect is traditionally spoken by the Pee Dee, and the Pee Dee Language Revitalization Program is dedicated to teaching anyone that wants to learn the dying language. The Pee Dee culture was a manifestation of the South Appalachian Mississippian mound-building tradition that disappeared by the nineteenth century. Because copper was an important commodity historically for the tribe, it’s still used extensively in regalia and everyday fashion by the Pee Dee.

The Pee Dee tribe still holds a Busk ceremony every year, which ends in the distribution of the celebration’s fire. People in attendance take burning embers back to their homes, which they use to ignite the fires in their dwellings. This is symbolic of the interconnectedness of the tribal members, and it’s also the reason that the Pee Dee are sometimes called the people of one fire.

Today, about 150 enrolled members of the Pee Dee Indian Tribe call McColl home. The nearby reservation serves as tribal land mostly dedicated to the rural agrarian life of its remaining inhabitants. Historically, the Pee Dee tribe lived off of agricultural production and trade.

Where is McColl, South Carolina Located on a Map?

Located in Marlboro County, South Carolina, McColl is a town neatly tucked away in the Pee Dee region. It can be found about 8 miles away from the North Carolina border. As of the 2010 census, the population of McColl was recorded at 2,174 residents.

Here is McColl, South Carolina on a map:


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About the Author

Kristen Holder is a writer at A-Z Animals primarily covering topics related to history, travel, pets, and obscure scientific issues. Kristen has been writing professionally for 3 years, and she holds a Bachelor's Degree from the University of California, Riverside, which she obtained in 2009. After living in California, Washington, and Arizona, she is now a permanent resident of Iowa. Kristen loves to dote on her 3 cats, and she spends her free time coming up with adventures that allow her to explore her new home.

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