Sonya Stevens is the weekend meteorologist at WCIV in Charleston, South Carolina.
Record rainfall and historic flooding occurred in the Lowcountry from Oct. 1 through Oct. 5.
We knew that widespread heavy rain was coming, but I don’t think any meteorologist in Charleston expected this outcome even though we know parts of the area are very susceptible to flooding. Schools were closed for days, in fact some districts were closed for a week. People were forced out of their homes and some have yet to return.
But what caused this catastrophic event? First, there was deep tropical moisture streaming into the area from Hurricane Joaquin which was well off to the east in the Atlantic. Second, there was a strong upper level low to the west.
The end result was widespread rainfall amounts of 15 to 20 inches with over 25 inches in the Tri-County area (Berkeley, Charleston, and Dorchester counties). Flash flooding was widespread too and led to major damage to homes, businesses, roads, and numerous water rescues. To add insult to injury, there were abnormally high tides because of persistent onshore winds and the recent perigean spring tide.
I hope this a once-in-a-lifetime flooding event for me. As a meteorologist I’m fascinated by the science, but it’s hard when you are reporting in an area that you call home now and have lived in most of your life.
After seeing the flood waters with my own eyes while out reporting, I’m reminded of how powerful water is and the destruction it can cause.
The recovery process is going to be a long one … please pray for the people of the Lowcountry and the rest of South Carolina as they pick up the pieces.