Tropical storm Florence, formerly a hurricane, is busy lingering over North Carolina and South Carolina, dumping floodwater over a large portion of both states. People who live near the coast know that hurricanes happen, and that each one brings different problems. In South Carolina, they also know that hurricane forecasts will bring sightings of the Gray Man.
Over the last week, some South Carolinians were talking about a different, folkloric warning sign, a ghost known as the Gray Man, believed to appear in the small town of Pawleys Island as a harbinger of hurricanes. While there is disagreement surrounding details (common to many ghost stories)—like who the Gray Man is supposed to have been and when he first appeared—the tale’s basic contours are generally accepted. In sum, a man was returning to his beloved on Pawleys Island after a long time away, but died in quicksand before arriving. Since then, he has been said to appear shortly before hurricanes, as a signal that it’s time to leave the island. He is also believed to preserve the homes of those he meets.