New National Weather Service program makes river flooding easier to read
Safe or swamped? River residents, boaters and floaters might get a better read with a modest tweak in flood warnings posted by the National Weather Service, Charleston. And other residents in flooded river counties could breathe a little easier.
Sopping it up; where we stand
Rainfall through 5 p.m. Sunday: 0 inches
Average yearly rainfall to date: 47.17 inches
One month prediction: Equal chance of above or below average rainfall.
Three month prediction: Equal chance.
Sources: National Weather Service/Charleston International Airport, Charleston; National Climate Prediction Center
That’s at least one more finger in the dike, with the Lowcountry already more than a foot above the average in rainfall for the year, and an even chance of more rain than average for the next three months.
Meanwhile, the rain seems to be taking a break, with no mention of rain in the forecast until Thursday, said meteorologist Mike Emlaw of the Charleston office. He said there also will be less moisture in the air, allowing the ground to dry out more.
“It’s going to be drying out a bunch,” Emlaw said. “We’re not going to be getting the heavy rain in the next five days that would prolong the flooding. It’s going to take the rivers awhile to come down, but we are anticipating that several of those, by the middle or end of the week, will be coming out of the flood stage.”
The NWS office on Sept. 1 will begin to display flood warnings on its online map by river basin instead of county, spurred somewhat by a soaked season during which the office has been issuing warning after warning.
For example, if a stretch of the Edisto River between Dorchester and Colleton counties has flooded, the map now highlights that section, rather than the entirety of both counties.
The difference is between a map that on a recent afternoon had every county in the Lowcountry highlighted in green to indicate river or coastal flooding, while in Orangeburg County, a small section of the Edisto was highlighted. That county is forecast by the Columbia office, which just made the change.
The change involved a software upgrade. It deals only with river flooding, not flash floods or coastal flooding, and doesn’t indicate the severity of the flooding, said weather service meteorologist Blair Holloway.
“Highlighting the entire county might give the impression the entire county is susceptible to flooding. It can be a little misleading,” he said.
Heavy doses of rain during the spring were followed by heavier spews in the summer.
The swamped Edisto in July became so dangerous that sheriff’s deputies in Dorchester and Colleton counties cautioned boaters, floaters and others to avoid using it. Homes were swamped along its course.
The river continues to run at or near flood stage.
Reach Bo Petersen at 937-5744, @bopete on twitter or Bo Petersen Reporting on Facebook.