Rain, flooding expected across Lowcountry with Beryl’s approach

Tropical Depression Beryl's approach to South Carolina could be seen in the varied cloud cover as seen from the Ravenel Bridge on Tuesday May 29, 2012. (Wade Spees/postandcourier.com)

The Charleston area is under a flood watch this morning as the remnants of Tropical Storm Beryl barrel up the coastline.

The storm is expected to continue on a northeast path and cross through our area later today. Beryl, now a tropical depression, should bring torrential rainfall to the region.

The Lowcountry can expect 3 to 5 inches of rain through early Wednesday, with as much as 7 inches of rain in some places. This will lead to an increased risk of flash flooding, despite the ongoing drought, according to the National Weather Service.

The risk for flash flooding will increase in downtown Charleston and other spots along the coast when high tide arrives a little after 3 p.m. this afternoon. That should be just in time for rush hour, so drivers need to keep a close eye on the rain-filled roads, National Weather Service meteorologist Steven Taylor said.

“With high tide being during the afternoon commute that could end up being a potential traffic situation, so drivers certainly should be aware of that,” Taylor said.

The storm is currently packing sustained winds of about 30 mph, with stronger gusts possible. Beryl isn’t supposed to strengthen much today, but it could gather a little steam as it approaches the coast and accelerates on Wednesday. The storm could muster enough energy by then to reclaim its tropical storm status.

A small craft advisory remains in effect through late tonight, with boaters and swimmers urged to stay out of the water. Dangerous surf conditions, including rip currents, are expected to increase with the storm’s approach,

“The conditions are going to support stronger, more frequent rip currents so only the more experienced surfers should go out into the waters,“ Taylor said.

Tropical Storm Beryl left little damage after making landfall with 70 mph winds around midnight Sunday at Jacksonville, Fla. Officials said the storm mostly gave the city the chance to put its natural disaster plans to the test.About 20,000 customers remained without electricity in the city Monday evening.

The rainfall stopped in Savannah, Ga., and other northern parts of the Georgia coast Monday afternoon, but more is expected today. A frontal system moving south from the Great Lakes is expected to cause the storm do a U-turn and push it back out to sea.

Beryl was expected to bring up to 10 inches of rain to parts of northern Florida to southeastern North Carolina, with some areas getting as much as a foot and a half, the National Hurricane Center in Miami said Monday night. Forecasters said Beryl is expected to produce up to six inches of rain in eastern North Carolina and South Carolina.

The official start of the hurricane season is Friday.