Messy morning likely as rain, high tide coincide

The Lowcountry is bracing for more flooding.

The National Weather Service in Charleston has issued a flash-flood watch in Charleston, Berkeley and Dorchester counties through 7 p.m. Monday and the city of Charleston has opened some garages for residents in flood-prone areas.

A stalled cold front that moved in Saturday is forecast to drop 2 to 4 inches of rain across the area by Monday night. Heavy rain is expected to be intermittent throughout Monday.

Meteorologist James Carpenter said if the heavy rain falls during high tide, as expected, it could make for a messy morning commute. High tide will be just after 6 a.m. Monday and could reach more than 7 feet, causing flooding across Charleston and low-lying coastal communities.

Tide charts show an estimate of 5.9 feet, but Carpenter said strong northeasterly winds overnight Sunday into Monday morning could cause a mass transport of water into the coast during high tide. The phenomenon is known as Ekman transport.

If the tide is unusually elevated and there is heavy rain, Carpenter said drivers could expect water on the roadways and slow receding of nuisance flooding. Some roads, especially in downtown Charleston, could become impassable due to high water, according to the Weather Service warning.

Charleston Police Department spokesman Charles Francis warned drivers Sunday of the potential for hazardous weather and said they might want to consider going to work early Monday morning or waiting until the tide recedes.

He said the City of Charleston is allowing residents with concerns about flooding to park for free in the city-owned Visitor Center and Aquarium parking garages only through 8 a.m. Tuesday.

Residents who wish to park in those garages can pull a parking card upon entering and tell attendants upon leaving that they were in for high tides and rain in their residential area.

Carpenter said the morning forecast wasn’t a done deal and that there could be lighter rain if weather patterns changed overnight Sunday. He encouraged residents to stay “weather-aware” and to continue monitoring forecasts.

The high Monday is expected to be in the high 60s, with lows in the mid 50s. Chances for rain drop off overnight Monday and the high Tuesday is forecast to be in the low 70s. Temperatures will likely be in the low 70s Wednesday and could climb to 75 or 76 degrees Thursday.

Another cold front is expected to hit the area Friday, but it is forecast to be drier than the current system, Carpenter said.

The heavy rains Monday could affect already flooded areas along the Santee and Edisto rivers. The rainfall with the potential for higher tides spurred updated flood warnings from the Weather Service.

At 7 p.m. Sunday, the Santee River near Jamestown was at 14.7 feet, well over the minor flood stage, which is 10 feet. Moderate flooding occurs at 17 feet and the river is expected to rise to about 15.9 feet overnight Monday into early Tuesday.

The warning states that at 16 feet, water surrounds the house at the end of Harris Landing and an adjacent boat ramp becomes inaccessible.

The Edisto near Givhans Ferry was measured at close to 12.3 feet at 7 p.m. Sunday. It has reached moderate flood stage, which is 12 feet. Major flooding occurs at 15 feet. The river is forecast to rise to 13.7 feet by early Friday, with additional rises possible thereafter, according to the warning.

At 14.2 feet, numerous homes along Happiness Lane are flooded and water covers most of Hideaway Lane, according to the warning.

Reach Melissa Boughton at 937-5594 or at Twitter.com/mboughtonPC.

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