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The James B. Edwards bridge over the Wando River westbound Interstate 526 will be closed for 4 weeks Wednesday, May 16, 2018. Grace Beahm Alford/Staff

By Grace Beahm Alford gbeahm@postandcourier.com

Three days after officials closed the Wando River bridge over westbound Interstate 526, igniting a widespread traffic nightmare, Charleston-area motorists on Thursday morning were gearing up for yet another day of sitting in congested traffic — this time with an increased likelihood of rain showers.

On Wednesday, the S.C. Department of Transportation offered its less-than-ideal prognosis: the heavily traveled portion of I-526 would remain shut down for four weeks while officials worked on a temporary fix for a busted cable. The span, which is a crucial connector for Mount Pleasant commuters to downtown Charleston, is expected to reopen June 11.

In the meantime, Mount Pleasant-area motorists in many cases are having to endure significantly prolonged commutes onto the peninsula.

As of 2 p.m. Thursday, just ahead of evening rush hour, heavy traffic was already beginning to accumulate on Johnnie Dodds Boulevard, just before southbound U.S. 17 on the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge. You can view select areas of DOT roads, including areas experiencing delays, here via above-street cameras.

Both north and southbound U.S. 17 are part of detour suggestions outlined by the DOT:

•Southbound US 17 across the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge to I-26 in Charleston.

•Northbound US 17 to Highway 41 to Clements Ferry back to I-526.

Weather forecasters previously predicted stormy weather for the area throughout the week. The inclement weather, which could prove to exacerbate the delays, has largely held off. The good fortune, however, may soon run its course.

How's the weather shaping up?

Rain showers are likely on Thursday, according to the National Weather Service, with new rainfall throughout the day totaling less than a tenth of an inch. There's about a 60-percent chance of rain showers in the afternoon with possible thunderstorms after 5 p.m.

Forecasters expect the greatest areas of precipitation to happen inland, starting in southeast Georgia during the morning and spreading north/northeast into southeast South Carolina, the Weather Service's Charleston office said. 

Showers and thunderstorms are likely before 11 p.m., the Weather Service said.

"Although severe weather is not anticipated, a strong thunderstorm or two can not be ruled out during the day," the Weather Service said. "The main issue will be shower and thunderstorm activity potentially enhancing a risk of coastal flooding during the high tide cycle late."

Gridlock dispatches

Reach Gregory Yee at 843-937-5908. Follow him on Twitter @GregoryYYee.

Michael Majchrowicz is a reporter covering crime and public safety. He previously wrote about courts for the Daily Hampshire Gazette in Northampton, Massachusetts. A Hoosier native, he graduated from Indiana University with a degree in journalism.

Gregory Yee covers breaking news and public safety. He's a native Angeleno and previously covered crime and courts for the Press-Telegram in Long Beach, CA. He studied journalism and Spanish literature at the University of California, Irvine.