Hurricane season came a little late to the East Coast this year, but now that it’s here, it seems like a new cleverly named tropical surge hits the Atlantic every day. Obviously, if a massive hurricane is about make landfall, you need to head upstate. But most of what we've seen so far this season are the remnants of mildly strong hurricanes that form way out at sea, and sputter out somewhere east of the Leeward Islands.
Let’s be thankful that Hurricanes Danny, Erica, and now Fred have brought Charleston nothing but flooded streets, hellish traffic jams, and a few nice rainy afternoons with a cool breeze coming from offshore.
There hasn’t been a significant hurricane Charleston Hurricane since Hugo, and the city has taken on a relaxed demeanor when another storm is announced. Surf shops throw up two day weekend sales in honor of the storm, bars indulge the locals with special happy hours, and generally everyone is relaxed. It’s ironic how calm the city becomes in the midst of bone rattling winds and stinging rain.
There are a few spots around town that are worth braving the weather to get to. Perfect places where you can enjoy cold local beer, good food, and watch the storm as it dies on our southern shores. Just remember, when you see the house across the alley start to close their shutters, head for higher ground.
Charleston is a port city, and a lot of the architecture reflects that. Walking down East Bay street would seem to some like they've walked into a Robert Louis Stevenson novel. Square, brick buildings with 300 years worth of patina, and gas lights punctuating the space between windows and 400 pound hickory doors is what you'll find south of Broad street on the battery.
The Griffon happens to be one of these places, and watching a storm roll into the harbor from its always open door feels like something out of a movie. It's dark, smells like beer, and there's never many people inside. It reminds this writer of a place where a bunch of salty pirates might stumble in for a beer or a fight...or both. Walk up to the bar, order a dark and stormy, and sit by the window.
The Rooftop at The Vendue
The Rooftop is the best view of the city, hands down, and it's a bar. That is a winning combination. Take the elevator to the highest floor, then walk up a flight of stairs to the upper deck. From there you'll have the best view of the eminent wind and rain you can possibly get. There's nothing like watching a massive black cloud rolling into the harbor. Time it correctly, and you might be able to enjoy yourself for a while before taking cover.
Tavern & Table
Tavern & Table is a relatively new restaurant on Shem Creek. The food is excellent, they've got a great selection of local brews, and last but not least, there’s a covered porch on the bank of the creek perfect for sitting out the weather. The best part about this establishment is that it's going to be empty if there's word of a big storm. The best case scenario at Tavern & Table is an empty porch, a dozen oysters on the half shell in front of your face, and a cold drink in your hand while the storm makes landfall.
First, the beach is not where you want to be during an actual hurricane, but when the tail end of a storm loses momentum on your beach, it's a beautiful thing to see. If you're not on Folly Beach surfing a hurricane swell, then you'd better be on Sullivan’s Island sitting in the sand dunes and watching the madness in the sky, way out at sea. The breeze is invigorating, you can smell the ocean like you normally cannot, and things start to slow down. It's incredible how much more in tune you can feel with the beach right before a storm.