January 31, 2015

Low-level droughts declared in 9 counties along Edisto River Basin

Map provided by DNR

Map provided by DNR

The lowest level of drought has now been declared in 9 counties that are located in west and southwestern South Carolina.

The S.C. Drought Response Committee upgraded the drought status to “incipient” for Edgefield, Aiken, Lexington, Barnwell, Allendale, Bamberg, Orangeburg, Hampton, and Colleton counties. The incipient drought declaration is the lowest declaration, followed by moderate, severe and extreme status.

It was the first drought declaration for any part of the state since April 2013. State Climatologist Hope Mizzell said in a release that rainfall totals since June 1 have varied across the state from less than 9 inches in Aiken to more than 34 inches in some coastal observation sites.

Aiken’s June 1 to Sept. 15 rainfall total of 8.79″ was the third driest for that site since 1925, according to the Climatology Office.

Even though coastal areas had received sufficient amounts of rain, the committee decided to include Colleton County because its inland region were much drier than other areas of the state.

The persistent below normal rainfall and resulting hydrologic impacts in the 9 counties led the SC Drought Response Committee to issue the incipient drought declaration.

S.C. Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Hydrologist Scott Harder informed the committee that the Edisto and Salkehatchie River basins have been the driest overall in South Carolina, experiencing persistent low streamflow conditions over much of the past two to three months.

The State Climatology Office is part of DNR.

‘Weak’ tornado confirmed in Orangeburg County

Image submitted by Sandi Bryant that led the NWS to investigate the scene

Image submitted by Sandi Bryant that led the NWS to investigate the scene

The National Weather Service has confirmed it was a weak tornado that touched down in the Orangeburg County town of Vance on Sunday afternoon.

The agency says its survey team inspected damage about a mile east of the small town Monday morning, and determined it was consistent with an EF-O tornado. The twister is believed to have hit around 2:30 p.m. and had wind speeds up to 80 miles per hour.

NWS surveyors said the storm damage path was about 30 yards wide and roughly a half-mile long. Most of the roof was blown off a mobile home on Peach Orchard Street just south of Lake Marion, but otherwise only minor damage was reported.



Damage along Peach Orchard St (Image: NWS)

Damage along Peach Orchard St (Image: NWS)

Meteorologist Tony Petrolito said the team noted the evidence on location was consistent with a tornado. “If the damage is orientated in a way that looks like a tornado, where it’s not all blown in one direction but is showing the (wind’s) rotation, you can be certain that’s a tornado,” he told South Carolina Radio Network.

The National Weather Service responded to the area after a resident filmed what appeared to be a small funnel cloud moving across the area on Sunday.

Rip current warning, small craft advisory off coast

Image: National Weather Service

Image: National Weather Service

The National Weather Service has issued rip current warnings along the state’s lower coast.

Forecasters at the NWS office in Charleston are warning people to stay out of the water along the south coast today because of the high risk of rip currents that could be life-threatening. Those warnings extend from the Berkeley-Georgetown County line southward into Florida.

Meanwhile, a small craft advisory is now in effect for the entire South Carolina coast. Winds just offshore of upward to 38 mph are expected to make conditions hazardous for small boats.

Tropical Storm Cristobal is expected to stay off the East Coast as it churns northward very slowly. As of 11:00 a.m. Monday, the storm was roughly 110 miles east of San Salvador Island in the Bahamas and 715 miles southwest of Bermuda. Its maximum sustained winds were about 60 miles per hour, but the storm was only moving north at a pae of 2 miles per hour, according to the National Hurricane Center.

Second body found after Greenville flash flood

Flood damage (mostly minor) was reported at more than 80 apartment units in east Greenville (Image: American Red Cross)

Flood damage (mostly minor) was reported at more than 80 apartment units in east Greenville (Image: American Red Cross)

Recovery crews say they have now found the body of a second person who was swept off a Greenville road by floodwaters Saturday night.

The body of 39 year old Tim Sullivan was recovered Monday afternoon. Sullivan was believed to be one of the two people witnesses said were swept away by raging flood waters Saturday night. Crews previously found the body of 36-year-old Kimberly Jackson of Mauldin on Sunday morning.

The Greenville County Coroner’s Office said Sullivan’s body was found by divers in a pond near Haywood and Halton roads.

Inspector L. C. Dendy with the Greenville Fire Department said a witness saw a man and a woman get out of a car that was stuck in flood water near Old Airport Road near the Haywood Mall. The witness said the pair was then swept away and was carried down into a culvert by the rushing water near Laurel Creek around 10:30 p.m. Saturday.

The National Weather Service station at Grenville-Spartanburg International Airport reported first nine days of August were the 7th wettest for that period out of 129 years of records, with 4.28″ of rain. The wettest first 9 days of August occurred in 2003, with 9.17″ of rain.

Ed Jenson contributed to this report

Flash flood warning extended in Charleston County, ends in Upstate

Flooding near the town of Belton in Anderson County (Image: National Weather Service)

Flooding near the town of Belton in Anderson County (Image: National Weather Service)

The National Weather Service has extended a flash flood warning for the Charleston area as rain continues to fall. Meanwhile, a similar watch was canceled in the Upstate, but light rains continue there as well.

Meanwhile, a flash flood watch is in effect through Sunday evening in South Carolina’s Pee Dee region.

Between four and eight inches of rain fell in both areas on Thursday, causing flooding on the Charleston peninsula and triggering several closures in Anderson County, downtown Greenville, and Spartanburg. At one point, Duke Energy had more than 3,000 customers without power in the Upstate, but Fox Carolina reports only a few hundred remained in the dark later in the morning.

NWS officials say the warning is now in effect until 4:00 p.m. for Charleston County. The warning means flooding is imminent or highly likely. An earlier warning had included Berkeley and Dorchester counties.

Cleveland Park in Greenville is now open again after county parks officials closed it Thursday due to flooding.