Traffic was tied up for hours after a torrential downpour in Charleston Saturday afternoon combined with an unusually high lunar tide to flood streets across the peninsula.

Thunderstorms packing wind gusts of up to 40 mph dumped 3 to 4 inches of rain on the peninsula in less than an hour and then moved into West Ashley. High winds took down tree limbs, blocking streets that weren't already blocked by water.

Traffic was gridlocked around the peninsula for hours.

The skies opened up about 2:45 p.m. over Brittlebank Park, sending hundreds of people attending the Charleston Pride Festival scurrying for their cars.

By 3:30 p.m., there were reports of intersections on the Charleston peninsula that were impassable, including Huger and King streets.

Charleston County Volunteer Fire and Rescue members worked with the Charleston Fire Department to rescue motorists trapped in their cars at flooded intersections. Authorities were urging people to avoid travel if possible.

Saturday night traffic coming from Mount Pleasant toward Charleston over the Ravenel Bridge was being redirected onto Interstate 26 toward North Charleston. A sign at the foot of the bridge said the Septima Clark Expressway, otherwise known as the Crosstown, was flooded.

The storm also knocked out the main number to the Charleston police station Saturday night, according to police spokesman Charles Francis. Callers were asked to call dispatch instead of the police station.

David MacDougall contributed to this story.