Tropical Depression

Beryl could do more good than harm in S.C.

jholleman@thestate.comMay 30, 2012 

What’s left of Tropical Depression Beryl will make today blustery and soggy in South Carolina, especially in the coastal counties. The chance of rain Werdnesday is 40 percent and is expected to clear later, according to the National Weather Service.

The tropical system promises to be more beneficial than destructive.

SEVERE STORM POTENTIAL: There’s a slight chance of tornados as the low pressure system continues moving up the coast today, but the most likely problems will be gusty winds and heavy rainfall. Gusts near the center of the storm as it crosses South Carolina are expected to be only about 30 mph, or about as strong as a line of summer thunderstorms.

WILL RAIN HELP S.C. DROUGHT CONDITIONS? Rainfall in the range of 3-5 inches is possible in coastal counties, with rainfall of 1-3 inches in the lower Midlands, according to the Weather Service. That comes on the heels of heavy coastal rains two weeks ago. But the region had been in a moderate drought before those rains. Depending on where the rain falls and how much comes down, portions of the coastal region might be moved from moderate to incipient drought conditions when the state drought committee meets next week, according to state climatologist Hope Mizzell. While, the seven counties in severe drought in the upper northwest portion of the state are expected to get little rain from Beryl, an outer band did drop more than an inch in three hours in the Anderson area Tuesday.

RAINFALL SO FAR: The outer bands of Beryl created crazy weather along the coast and in the Midlands over the Memorial Day weekend. Sunny skies quickly gave way to thunderstorms, then the sun returned. Rough waves and stinging, wind-driven sand made beaches less fun than normal. Oddly, the top two official rain totals in the state over the past three days were near the coast in Hampton County and well inland in Blythewood. One band sat on the Blythewood area Monday and dumped 1.82 inches in one location and 1.42 in another late Monday, according to the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network.

FLOODING? Flooding is unlikely to be a major problem, other than the normal flash flooding when massive amounts of rain falls on flat coastal areas. Some Pee Dee region rivers could reach flood stage if their basins are hit with 6 inches of rain or more, but most rivers are well below flood stage before the rains arrive. Officially, there is a flash flood watch in effect for the southern Lowcountry and a flood watch for the Pee Dee and Grand Strand.

STORM TRIVIA: Two tropical storms forming before June 1 is rare but not unprecedented. The last time it happened was 1907, when two hurricanes formed in March and May. Before that, two tropical storms formed in May 1887. In case you’re wondering, 1907 ended up being a particularly slow season with just five storms, but 1887 was particularly busy with 19.

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