UPDATE 9:10 p.m.
By 8 p.m. Saturday night, many areas of South Carolina were reporting significant flooding, blocked and closed roads, sewage overflows and other weather related problems.
At high tide the seawall at Edisto Beach was breached and a state of emergency was declared.
Dorchester County declared a state of emergency and imposed a curfew at 6 p.m. covering St. George, Ridgeville, Harleyville and Reedsville.
The South Carolina Highway Patrol reported 3 weather related traffic fatalities and responded to nearly 500 traffic collisions, assisted 170 motorists, dealt with 18 trees in the road and 104 reports of flooded roads.
The North Charleston Sewer district warned residents that widespread flooding has caused sewer overflows and that overflows are likely to continue throughout this weekend.
The South Carolina National Guard continued processing requests for sand bags and worked feverishly to fill sand bags and deliver them to local pubic safety agencies.
UPDATE: 6:24 p.m.
South Carolina emergency management officials increased the state’s emergency operations to OPCON 1, it was announced shortly after 6 p.m.
“OPCON 1 is the highest of the five operational classifications and indicates that a disaster or emergency situation is in effect and full emergency operations are ongoing. The State Emergency Operations Center is fully activated and operating on a 24-hour schedule,” the Emergency Management Division said in a release.
The announcement was made as a fresh wave of severe thunderstorms moved into the Midlands from the west.
UPDATE 6:18 p.m.
Utility crews entered Saturday evening still fighting for leverage against weather-induced power outages around the state with nearly 3,400 customers without electricity at 5 p.m.
The bulk of the reported outages were centered in the Lowcountry, where 2,364 South Carolina Electric & Gas Co. customers in Charleston were without power and more than 300 customers in Beaufort had no power, according to the utility's website. In addition, about 100 electric customers in Greenwood were reporting outages at that hour, though crews had restored power to all but about 40 in Richland County.
Those figures for Richland County had been much higher over the course of Friday night and into Saturday, as also had been the case in Lexington County.
Duke Energy, which previously reported more than 22,000 customers in North and South Carolina without power, including significant numbers of residents in Fairfield and Kershaw counties, had restored power to all but about 450 customers at 5 p.m.
While Santee Cooper Power reported significant flooding throughout the day in Little River, Cherry Grove and North Myrtle Beach, no outages were reported on their website Saturday at 6 p.m. "We've just been very fortunate," said Susan Mungo, spokeswoman for the publicly-owned utility in Myrtle Beach.
With more rain forecast in the state overnight Saturday and virtually all day Sunday, utility crews were expected to remain on the front lines heading into the work week on Monday.
Update: 4:04 p.m.
The South Carolina Department of Transportation reports the following Midlands area roads closed due to flooding:
Lexington County’s Poole’s Mill Road from Mack Edisto Road to Johnson King Road.
Kershaw County’s Fort Jackson Road from the Richland County Line to White Pond Road.
Update 3:48 p.m.
President Obama declared a state of emergency in South Carolina Saturday afternoon, freeing up federal aid to help the state meet the needs of areas affected by severe storms and flooding.
The South Carolina Emergency Management Division of the SC Adjutant General’s office reported Saturday afternoon three weather-related deaths in the state since Friday. The deaths occurred in Aiken, Greenville and Anderson counties but no other information was provided.
The SCEMD is the coordinating agency responsible for the statewide emergency management program.
Update 3:10 p.m.
S.C. Department of Transportation reported that 74 roads were closed due to rain and floods. In addition, about 1,000 maintenance employees were actively working across the state.
In Five Points, a notorious flood zone, merchants braced for more rain.
“Everybody is still on high alert,” said Amy Beth Franks, executive director of the Five Points Association. Store owners had put out sandbags on Friday and barricades were still staged on Saturday to block traffic, if needed.
“We’ve been lucky so far, but we’re definitely still preparing for flooding should it happen.”
A flash flood warning expired at 12:30 p.m. for Mecklenburg County in North Carolina, and authorities expected the rains to head toward Columbia, The Charoltte Observer reported.
“Eventually, we expect the area of heavy rain to pivot southward into South Carolina,” said Doug Outlaw, of the National Weather Service office in Greer, S.C. “That area will be just south of Charlotte.”
Update at 12:30 p.m.
Rolling power outages continued to plague residents in a wide swath of the state stretching from Charleston inland to Columbia, and continuing across the heart of the state northwest to Greenville at midday Saturday.
The city of Columbia reported no issues as of 12:30 p.m. But with the worst of the rain expected later, “We are not clear yet,” assistant city manager Missy Gentry said.
The South Carolina Department of Transportation said most callers to its information line want to know if roads are passable. Motorists can get the latest information from the customer service center (855-467-2368) or the road conditions website . To report flooding, the public should contact local law enforcement or the Highway Patrol.
The S.C. DOT Call Center is now operational 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.
State emergency management officials said at least 15 people have been evacuated in Georgetown County due to flooding.
Duke Energy Carolina reported more than 22,000 of its customers in the two-state coverage area of North and South Carolina were without power at the noon hour Saturday. Greenville was by far the hardest hit area for power outages in Duke's South Carolina territory, reporting 1,233 locations without power.
In the Midlands, Fairfield County reported 672 power outages at noon and Kershaw County reported 385.
"The outages are due to a combination of saturated ground, heavy rains, and moderate wind gusts, and those create a perfect situation for downed trees and power lines," said Jennifer Jabon, spokeswoman for Duke Energy Carolinas in Greenville. "We do recognize there is still a potential for outages due to heavy rains and winds that are also forecast to continue across the area."
Teams of power crews in the Carolinas are working to restore the power losses, Jabon said, and additional crews from neighboring states also stand ready to respond if such needs arise, she said.
As rain continued to pour into the state from Hurricane Joaquin off the coast of South Carolina and from a pressure system in the northern Gulf of Mexico, Richland County power outages rose during the morning from about 100 customers without power to 680 without power due to weather events at noon.
There were six active incidents driving the power outages in Richland County, according to SCE&G, which registered 871 customers without power across the state at midday. Charleston County reported 165 power outages at noon.
Just before noon on Saturday, the eastern part of South Carolina received between 4 to 10 inches of rain in the past 24 hours, said Steve Naglic, of the National Weather Service.
The central part of the state also received between 2 to 4 inches of rain, while the western part of the state received less than two inches.
“It’s just going to keep on raining right on through Sunday,” Naglic said.
Rainfall totals were expected from 10 to 20 inches from the Midlands to the coast.
Elsewhere could expect 4 to 10 inches of rain. Areas along the Savannah River were expected to get the lowest amount between 2 to 4 inches.
Update at 11:45 a.m.
Columbia police officials said they have reopened Huger and Whaley streets to traffic. However Kershaw County Emergency Management officials announced the public boat landing on Highway 1 has been closed until further notice.
Update at 11:30 a.m.
Authorities shut down the Charleston peninsula to motorists.
Several feet of water had caused vehicles to stall in downtown Charleston and water has inundated some homes and buildings in the area, according to the National Weather Service. At least two to four additional inches of rain was expected by noon. Barbara Vaughn, a Charleston city spokeswoman, said several people were rescued from stranded cars there.
The Charleston Police Department has issued lists of dozens of street closings, and the city’s historic district was almost entirely shut down. Parts of the market area had sandbags piled up to keep the floodwaters out.
Portions of some streets were flooded, with water roughly 8 to 12 inches deep, reaching the wheel wells of cars in some spots. Police have stationed officers and set up barricades all over the city blocking roads. No one is being allowed into Charleston, and once people drive out, they won’t be allowed back in until the flooding subsides.
In one area, water swirled like a toilet down a storm drain. Public works crews patrolled the city, checking storm drains in case they needed to be cleared of debris.
----- From the Associated Press
The South Carolina Department of Transportation also released a map showing road closures throughout the state.
Update at 10:30 a.m.
The S.C. Department of Transportation reports that wet road conditions exist throughout the state with the heaviest rain in the I-26 corridor. The majority of road closures have been in the greater Charleston area and in the Pee Dee. So far, 41 roads have been closed and 947 SC DOT employees are working on the storm issues.
DOT crews began working 12-hour shifts at 8 p.m. Friday night.
Horry County Emergency Management officials have reported that 100 homes throughout the county have been flooded, forcing two people to stay at the American Red Cross shelter overnight.
Update at 10 a.m.
Within the past 24 hours, Columbia received an estimated 3- to 4-inches of rainfall, according to The National Weather Service. However parts the Pee Dee region and Lowcountry have seen the most amount of rainfall, with Charleston receiving upwards of 6-inches of rain, while areas near Florence have received upwards of 8-inches of rain.
Update at 9 a.m.
The northbound lanes of Huger St. and Whaley St. are shutdown due to flooding, said Jennifer Timmons, spokesperson for Columbia Police Department.
Midlands residents are experiencing weather-related power outages this Saturday morning, particularly in Lexington and Richland counties, according to SCE&G.
As many as 1,200 customers lost power in Lexington County overnight when a tree fell on a line, said SCE&G spokeswoman Ginny Jones. About half those customers had been restored by 6:30 a.m., she said. At last check, 679 customers were without power, but crews were working to restore those as quickly as possible, Jones said, within the next couple of hours.
In Richland County, about 100 customers were without power as a result of the weather, Jones said. SCE&G has about 159,000 customers in Richland County, and about 97,000 customers in Lexington County.
Surprisingly, Jones said, Charleston County, where significant flooding and street closures are being reported, only about 55 customers are out of power in the SCE&G service areas.
Columbia had yet to be hit by floods from the storm as of 6:20 a.m. Saturday, assistant city manager Missy Gentry said.
Even flood-prone Five Points had yet to be hard hit, Gentry said. "We can handle the steady rain, which we've had," she said early Saturday.
A spokesman with the S.C. Emergency Management Division said a slow, steady rain has begun around the state.
The National Weather Service in Columbia issued a flood warning for the Congaree River, which affects Calhoun, Lexington and Richland Counties.
“Heavy rainfall overnight with amounts from 2 to 4 inches combined with releases from area reservoirs has produced rises along the Congaree River at Carolina Eastman,” in Calhoun County, the advisory said.
Additional heavy rainfall will cause the river to rise over the next several days.
In Charleston, roads are mostly closed because the peninsula has limited access due to tidal flooding.
Midlands city officials remain braced for the forecast deluge over the weekend and into next week.
There were no major problems in Lexington overnight said public safety director David Kerr. The night was “actually pretty calm.”
Two trees that fell blocked side roads, but they are being removed, he said.
By 6:30 a.m. there had been no significant flooding on roads or an increase in calls for help to 9-1-1.
Richland and Lexington counties had gotten 1 to 2 inches of rain by 5:30 a.m., said meteorologist Mike Proud with the National Weather Service.
But the areas were getting rain rates between half an inch to three quarters of an inch an hour early Saturday morning.
“We’re going to start to see more and more flooding,” Proud said.
By 5:30 a.m. there had not been any reports of flooding from the Columbia area, Proud said.
Another concern is wind gusts, Proud said. The rain last week combined with the current system may blow weakened trees into roadways and on power lines, he said.