It might seem to be raining buckets like last year - and this weekend's drenching won't change your mind - but so far 2014 is shaping up to be nice and normal.

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Some 2-3 inches of rain is expected Friday through Sunday as the worst of stormy weather from the Gulf of Mexico moves across the Lowcountry coast or just offshore.


Charleston rainfall for the period of January-April 16 (1938 to present):

4.72 inches - Driest year, 1954

11.36 inches - 2014

12.32 inches - Average

18.47 inches - 2013

26.71 inches - Wettest year, 1998

Source: S.C. Climate Office

The weather also is forecast to bring some pretty stiff winds, with gale force gusts offshore smacking the seas as high as 17 feet by early Saturday, according to the National Weather Service, Charleston.

On Thursday, the National Centers for Environmental Prediction had a slight risk of excessive rain posted for Friday and Saturday from the Big Bend in Florida through eastern Georgia to South Carolina coast into southern Charleston County.

"It will be a pretty steady downpour," said meteorologist Emily Timte, with the weather service in Charleston. Road surfaces could puddle during downpours and, with a nearly full moon, there's a potential for low area flooding if the downpours occur near high tide, she said.

As of Thursday, though, the rain total for the year so far was nearly an inch below the long-term average.

It also was a good 6 inches below the total through mid-April in 2013, when widespread flooding became a real concern by summer.

This year, in other words, hasn't gone to the hogs, yet. Cheryl Gwaltney, a West Ashley resident whose yard was rooted up last summer by feral hogs that moved out of the flooded swamp nearby, hasn't seen a tusk in a while.

"Once the rain stopped they left," she said.

"It's a drier start to this year than it was last year," said Hope Mizzell, state climatologist. "The ground (saturation) is normal. The river stream flow is normal."

Last year, in fact, wasn't as bad as it seemed. After a soggy start, the official total of 60 inches of rain that fell didn't even make the Top Ten list for rainiest years.

"We started off wet and then basically were normal," said meteorologist Ron Morales, with the weather service, in December.

So sop it up. The sun comes back by Monday.

Reach Bo Petersen at 937-5744, @bopete on twitter or Bo Petersen Reporting on Facebook.