If current rainfall forecasts turn out to be correct, both the Waccamaw River in Conway and Little Pee Dee River in Galivants Ferry are expected to reach “major flood” water levels, according to the National Weather Service in Wilmington, North Carolina.
The Waccamaw River could reach a record flood stage.
The NWS warns Hurricane Florence may evolve into another major flood event with life-threatening flooding throughout southeastern North Carolina and northeastern South Carolina, including Horry and Georgetown counties.
The Waccamaw River around Conway is forecast to rise to a minor flood stage early Sunday, major flood stage of 14 feet Monday and close to a record flood stage of 17.1 feet by midweek. The current record is 17.9 feet, which was set after Hurricane Matthew in 2016, and the NWS warns the river level could exceed the record following Matthew as well as the level following Hurricane Floyd in 1999 by 2 to 3 feet in seven to 10 days.
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As of noon Friday, the Waccamaw River was at 7.15 feet. Flood stage is 11 feet.
If the river reaches 15.9 feet, the NWS predicts flooding will occur at the Conway Marina, railroad trestles in downtown Conway, and in residential properties and roads off U.S. 501 Business, S.C. 905 and S.C. 90 including Riverfront South, Lees Landing, Savannah Bluff, Pitch Landing, Jackson Bluff and Bucksville.
The Little Pee Dee River around Galivants Ferry is forecast to rise to its minor flood stage of 9 feet Sunday and could reach a major flood stage of 12 feet by Monday night. The NWS warns the river level could exceed the one following Matthew by 1 to 2 feet by Sept. 23. The river level as of noon Friday was just 3 feet.
Little Pee Dee flooding is expected to impact up to 40 homes in the Fork Retch community near Nichols while also flowing into swampland and over boat landings.
Overall in southeastern North Carolina and northeastern South Carolina, seven rivers — the Waccamaw, Little Pee Dee, Pee Dee, Cape Fear, Northeast Cape Fear, Lumber and Black Creek — are all expected to reach major flood stages at some locations, while the Lynches and Black rivers are expected to reach “moderate” flood stage and the Santee River is forecast to reach “minor” flood stage.
The NWS river levels forecast is as of noon Friday, and an update is expected Saturday afternoon.
Richard Neuherz, a hydrologist with the federal National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration who is based in Wilmington, said the river level forecasts are based on where the NOAA and NWS predict the rain will actually fall. If the predictions for areas of heaviest rainfall or the amounts are off at all, it will affect how the rivers respond.