Rush-hour downpours turn streets into canals again
Once again, a sudden burst of heavy rain turned Charleston streets into canals during rush hour Wednesday.
Police shut down the Crosstown, as well as a number of other streets on the peninsula. Traffic on Interstate 26 was barely moving in both directions in and out of Charleston.
Streets in the South Windermere area of West Ashley were also too flooded to drive through.
Only a little over an inch of rain was measured at Waterfront Park in downtown Charleston by 6 p.m., but the downpour came as high tide was approaching, which made matters worse, according to the National Weather Service.
West Ashley and Mount Pleasant got more rain than the peninsula. The weather service measured about 3.5 inches of rain in West Ashley and 2.5 inches in Mount Pleasant Wednesday afternoon.
The scenes downtown were all too familiar.
A line of cars coming off the Crosstown at 5 p.m. parked along Sheppard Street rather than brave the sloshy lake that covered King Street.
By 5:45 p.m., many low-lying streets around the Medical University were under water. Traffic on Calhoun Street slowed to a crawl as drivers in small cars found themselves watching waves crash over their front bumpers from the wakes of oncoming cars.
On Ogier Street, at least four parked cars had water inside them, including three with water rising to their stick shifts. Trucks with clearance had better luck navigating the area, creating large wakes that pushed water even higher against stalled a stalled car on Vandherhorst Street.
Police blocked off dip in the road on Ashley Avenue between Halsey and Bennett Streets where water was waist deep.
A number of motorists surprised by the sudden lakes said it seemed even worse than the floods that hit Charleston last week.
John Quagliariello, a meteorologist with the Charleston office of the National Weather Service, said he had also heard reports that it may have been worse than last week, although he didn’t have any evidence to support that.
By 7 p.m., streets that had been closed were opening again and the sun was shining on the peninsula.
Thursday’s forecast includes a 60 percent of afternoon thunderstorms.
Dave Munday and Tony Bartelme contributed to this story.