The entire Midlands area was placed under a tornado watch Wednesday ahead of potentially severe storms in the afternoon and evening hours.
The watch, issued by the National Weather Service at 11 a.m., includes the entire Midlands and Upstate areas and is due to expire at 6 p.m. Wednesday.
A tornado warning issued for Saluda County is due to expire at 3 p.m. A severe thunderstorm warning remains in effect for Saluda, Newberry and Chapin until 3:15 p.m.
Showers and thunderstorms will be widespread across the area Wednesday, and could become more severe between 2 and 10 p.m., according to John Quagliariello, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Columbia. Damaging winds will be the main concern, along with the potential for an isolated tornado and localized flooding.
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The storms are expected to be more severe along the I-20 corridor and south of that. That’s more than half of Richland and Lexington counties, including everything except Gilbert, Lexington, Lake Murray, Irmo, Pontiac and Blythewood.
Most areas can expect to see half an inch to 1.5 inches of rain.
“It might be several rounds that could occur during that time frame,” Quagliariello said. “If you're in one of those slow-moving storms, the potential is there for significantly more rainfall.”
Much of the state remains under a flash flood watch through Wednesday evening.
Rainfall amounts have varied around the Columbia area this week. On Monday, the Five Points district had minor flooding after receiving more than 2 inches of rain, Quagliariello said, while Owens Field Park registered .76 inches the same day.
After consecutive days of rainfall this week from a stalled frontal boundary, conditions are expected to improve Thursday with scattered showers and highs in the upper 70s, Quagliariello said. Friday will be dry and sunny with highs in the 80s.