Higher summer rainfall in Beaufort County boosts tree services

mmcnab@beaufortgazette.comSeptember 18, 2013 


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

A wet summer in Beaufort County has led to a boost in the tree service business, companies said.

Ronnie Reiselt Jr., owner of Southern Tree Services in Beaufort, said quick growth caused by above-average rainfall this summer led to a 30 percent jump in tree prunings.

"We have a lot of clients who are out-of-towners," he said. "We did a lot of work for people who would find trees hanging over their homes when they visited."

Michael Murphy, owner of Preservation Tree Care in Beaufort, said his company experienced a similar rise in business.

"The increase in rain meant an increase in growth and weight of the trees," he said. "It caused an uptick in tree prunings for us."

Murphy said trees with nuts, such as hickory or pecans, and trees with moss had to be pruned because of extra weight from the increased rain. Quicker growth meant heavier trees, leading to broken limbs, Reiselt said.

Beaufort County had some isolated incidents involving falling trees and limbs. In July, a Bluffton teenager was injured when a branch fell on her outside the Old Town Dispensary restaurant.

Earlier this month, a tree believed to have been weakened by a storm on Labor Day fell onto Parris Island Gateway in Beaufort, temporarily knocking out power to more than 1,500 customers in the Shell Point neighborhood.

Beaufort County was spared the intense rainfall that pounded the northern parts of the state and caused flooding in June and July.

From June 1 through late July, rain fell somewhere in South Carolina every day.

In July, a 600 percent increase in rainfall the first 10 days of the month forced a large release of water from lakes along the Savannah River Basin, causing river levels in Jasper County to hit a peak not seen since 1993.

A calculation by The (Columbia) State newspaper put the average rainfall through August at 47.21 inches, which would rank as South Carolina's wettest year since 1964.

Beaufort County typically gets about five inches of rain in June and in July and about seven inches in August, said Ron Morales, meteorologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. In June and July, the majority of the county experienced an increase of anywhere between one and five inches above normal, Morales said.

Some of the northern fringes of the county were hit harder, getting to 10 to 12 inches above normal, he added.

Despite the increase, Beaufort County fared better than other Lowcountry counties, Morales said. Charleston and Hampton counties had sections that got between 17 and 19 inches above normal in June.

The rain dried up in August. A few small sections of Beaufort County experienced a nominal increase over normal, and some areas were below normal.

Morales said low-pressure systems brought the heavy rain in June and July and were replaced by high-pressure ridges through most of August.

Despite the clouds, the weather pattern brought a silver lining.

"The low-pressure systems shunt hurricanes away and out to sea," Morales said.

"I'd rather have a rainy season than have a hurricane hit us."

File video: Local flooding

Areas of Jasper County flooded in July after the Savannah River rose to its highest level in 20 years. Video by photojournalist Delayna Earley.

Follow reporter Matt McNab at twitter.com/IPBG_Matt. Related content:

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