Bill Perry appears to be reveling in the mass of flurries blanketing Folly Beach’s Center Street. His partner, Betty Sue Cowsert, took this photo in December 1989, almost three months to the day after Hurricane Hugo wreaked havoc on Charleston. After all, it was the first white Christmas since 1938, leading some locals to declare a holiday miracle. But in actuality, the unexpected storm—which brought high winds and record snows to the Carolinas—“was a real hardship we certainly weren’t prepared for,” Perry says. Some six inches accumulated in Charleston, and Perry, then the owner of Oceansports Surf Shop (now Ocean Surf Shop), recalls the bursting of pipes just repaired after Hugo, homes left without water, and icy roads that hindered holiday travels. Whether considered a present or a pestilence, the cold stuff made for a Christmas that residents will remember for a lifetime.