Flood-prone Columbia streets to slow traffic after powerful storm causes damage

Shortly after City of Columbia officials urged residents to avoid several flood-prone streets and intersections during heavy rains Tuesday, a storm caused water to rise at a busy downtown intersection.

The powerful storm that moved through the Midlands around 4 p.m. caused flooding at the intersection of Main and Whaley streets in downtown, the Columbia Police Department tweeted.

Wind gusts moving as fast as 47 mph were reported at Williams-Brice Stadium, home of the University of South Carolina Gamecocks, according to Midlands Weather.

Flooding was also reported at the intersection of Gervais and Marion streets, in a tweet shared by the National Weather Service office in Columbia.

The storm caused roads to be blocked by downed trees and limbs, which were reported in the 2400 block of Heyward Street by police in a tweet.

Those were some of several Columbia roadways city officials warned could become dangerous because of storms. A flash flood warning was issued for Columbia, West Columbia and Forest Acres among other areas near downtown, the NWS tweeted.

Some roadways flood quickly during heavy rains often seen during the summer months and can turn dangerous for cars that get stuck in the flood waters.

A few areas to avoid during heavy rains, according to the City of Columbia, include:

  • Main Street and Whaley Street

  • Gervais Street and Laurens Street
  • Blossom Street and Henderson Street
  • Blossom Street and Saluda Avenue
  • Harden Street and Santee Avenue
  • Monroe Street and Maple Street
  • Wheat Street and Amherst Avenue
  • Adger Road and Devine Street
  • Wheat Street and Sumter Street
  • Wheat Street and Pickens Street
  • Heyward Street and Ravenel Street
  • Pickens Street between Wheat and Green streets
  • Barnwell Street and Pendleton Street
  • Harden Street and Read Street
  • Harden Street and Calhoun Street
  • Franklin Street and Marion Street
  • Franklin Street and Sumter Street
  • Columbia College Drive and North Main Street
  • Bull Street and Laurel Street

“Please be safe in this inclement weather!” Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin tweeted.

The Columbia Fire Department issued a warning to drivers telling them “DO NOT drive into the water! Turn around and seek an alternate route!”

The flooding, heavy rain and powerful wind are expected to make the evening commute slower than usual for drivers across the Midlands.

“Drivers are asked to make sure headlights are on in the rain, give yourself some added stopping distance, watch your speed, stop for red lights and wait to text until you’re safely home,” the Lexington Police Department said on Twitter.

A slight risk of excessive rainfall from the storms is possible through 9 p.m,. according to the NWS.

Teddy Kulmala covers breaking news for The State and covered crime and courts for seven years in Columbia, Rock Hill, Aiken and Lumberton, N.C. He graduated from Clemson University and grew up in Barnwell County.
Noah Feit is a Real Time reporter with The State focused on breaking news, public safety and trending news. The award-winning journalist has worked for multiple newspapers since starting his career in 1999.