Flood watch in effect on Grand Strand, wet weekend ahead

08/01/2014 6:50 PM

08/01/2014 6:52 PM

A flood watch is in effect through 8 p.m. Saturday because of storms that could deliver a large swath of heavy precipitation over the Grand Strand area during the weekend, according to the National Weather Service in Wilmington, N.C.

“Wet and stormy sums it up,” NWS meteorologist-in-charge Michael Caropolo said of the outlook for the weekend.

He said a coastal front across eastern North Carolina and South Carolina will bring the rain — forecasted to be between two and five inches through Sunday with higher isolated totals.

The storm threat comes less than a week after a microburst on Monday knocked a tree into a home and blew the roof off another in Conway, while also downing other trees and knocking out power to at least 2,000 homes.

Soggy ground conditions on Monday played a big role in the damage caused by that storm, according to Carl Morgan, with the NWS. Trees that otherwise could have handled the 60 and 70 mph winds in that storm instead were uprooted because the ground was so wet, he said.

Caropolo said the region covered by the NWS in Wilmington, which includes eastern North Carolina and South Carolina from counties along the I-95 corridor to the beach, saw a “very wet July.”

At the North Myrtle Beach Airport, the area’s official monitoring station, 6.44 inches of rain were recorded in July, about half an inch above normal. Wilmington, N.C. saw 12 inches of rain during the same period, finishing the month 4.5 inches above normal, said meteorologist Terry Lebo.

Lebo said totals may have been higher in inland areas like Conway. There are stations that report data in Conway, but Lebo said the information is mailed at the end of each month meaning July’s numbers from inland Horry County are not yet available.

The heavy rainfall this weekend could lead to flooding.

“We anticipate that it’s going to be a fairly big deal,” he said.

He added that it’s not the worst case scenario. The Waccamaw River in Conway currently is about 3-feet below flood stage and river flooding is not expected, he said. Forecasters initially were worried about flooding along the coast due to an on-shore wind coupled with rain trying to drain off, but Lebo said that does not appear to be an issue because of “where we are in the lunar cycle” with the full moon coming Aug. 9.

The weekend rains mean a cool down, with temperatures topping out in the low 80s, but Lebo said the mercury will start swinging back to about 90 degrees by the middle of the work week.

After the wet weekend, forecasters will turn their eyes to Tropical Storm Bertha.

On Tuesday, the tropical storm is expected to be miles off the shore of the Grand Strand, according to the current projected path from the National Hurricane Center. Models on Friday show all tropical storm force winds associated with the system staying well off the shore of South Carolina.

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