Heavy rain leaves surprising dry spell of issues

sbowman@islandpacket.comAugust 15, 2013 

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FILE: A City of Beaufort crew works on removing a fallen tree from the side of a home on North Street on Aug. 16, 2013, in Beaufort.

SARAH WELLIVER — Staff photo Buy Photo

Despite a deluge of 3.44 inches Wednesday night -- an amount expected to increase over the weekend -- local officials said they're surprised the rain hasn't caused more problems.

Roads have remained passable, very few trees have come down and no reports of flooding have been received, Beaufort County public works director Eddie Bellamy said. He said there has been only one report of a tree blocking a county road, on Lady's Island.

"In some areas of the county we had three inches of rain last night, and for us to suffer only one tree down blocking one road, I think we are very fortunate," Bellamy said. "Hopefully, that's still the case come Monday."

Weather forecasts indicate showers and thunderstorms are probable through Sunday, according to Emily Timte, a meteorologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. She predicted another three inches of rain for the area over the weekend.

Already, 4.13 inches of rain has fallen during the first half of August, according to county Emergency Management deputy director David Zeoli. Of the 34.24 inches so far this year, 14.71 inches of rainfall have come since the beginning of June.

Although exact numbers for Beaufort County weren't available, this year has been the seventh wettest to this point for Charleston since 1938, when record-keeping on weather began, Timte said. It's probably a pretty similar situation in Beaufort, she said.

But Bellamy said there is one difference that could account for the county's lack of trouble.

"You hear about problems in Charleston and Savannah, but we don't have those problems here because we don't have the impervious surface that cities have," Bellamy said. "And our low areas drain pretty well and most flooding goes away with low tide."

Bellamy and Zeoli said they're not doing anything unusual to prepare for the heavy rain and storms expected this weekend.

Zeoli said there are several areas that attract water and are heavily traveled -- such as the south end of Hilton Head Island and the intersection of U.S. 278 and S.C. 170 in Bluffton -- that the departments know to keep an eye on during heavy rains.

Public Works and Emergency Management also have crews on call to respond to any incidents or emergencies if reports do come in. Zeoli said the departments works closely with the weather service to track storms and know what to expect.

"We always try to be a step ahead and think of the 'what if?' scenarios, but with weather sometimes you can't be," Zeoli said. "But so far we've been really fortunate, and I'm hoping that holds true this weekend."

Follow reporter Sarah Bowman on Twitter at twitter.com/IPBG_Sarah.

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Lack of high-pressure weather systems causing historic rainfall, July 21, 2013 More rain delays cleanup of Botanical Garden, August 14, 2013

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