Rain soaked The T&D Region much of Wednesday night into Thursday in what has become an increasingly common occurrence since the historic October floods.

The National Weather Service reported about 2.55 inches of rain fell at the Orangeburg Airport over the past two days, bringing the monthly total to the same. The normal amount for the first four days of February is 0.29 inches.

The rain prompted the South Carolina Highway Patrol to issue a flood advisory for the intersection of Binnicker Bridge Road and Good Hope Road late Thursday morning.

The rain also swelled area rivers and lakes.

The North Fork of the Edisto River at Orangeburg on Thursday was registering at 7.63 feet, which was slightly below the 8-foot flood stage. The river was expected to reach 8.2 feet early Saturday morning before falling below flood stage early Monday morning.

At 8.2 feet, there is a concern for minor flooding in low-lying areas near the river. At the height of the October flood, the river reached 13.64 feet.

There were no flood advisories, watches or warnings issued for The T&D Region on Thursday.

At the Congaree River at Carolina Eastman, river levels Thursday morning were at 112.4 feet above sea level. The flood stage is 115 feet. The river was forecast to crest at 118.3 feet, causing minor flooding.

At the height of the October floods, the Congaree River reached 126.9 feet.

The South Fork of the Edisto River in Bamberg at U.S. 301 was about 10.77 feet Thursday afternoon. At the height of the October flood, the river was about 12 feet.

The river was below the flood stage of 16 feet and was not forecast to reach flood stage.

Lake Marion near Elloree was registering at 76.4 feet Thursday afternoon. Flood stage is at 77 feet.

Santee Cooper has been conducting spilling operations at the Santee Dam periodically since the October floods and began spilling operations this week in light of the rising lake levels and forecasts for rain. The spill was about 2,500 cubic feet per second.

Spilling is a normal part of Santee Cooper's hydroelectric operations during periods of increased flows into the lakes.

The rainfall and, in some cases severe thunderstorms, are credited to a slow-moving cold front over the area.

The frequent rainfalls are the result of what forecasters identify as a strong El Nino. An El Nino occurs when the tropical eastern Pacific Ocean and overlying atmosphere are warming, which leads to heavier winter precipitation for South Carolina.

El Nino years have consistently resulted in above-normal rainfall for the Carolinas.

The T&D Region has continued to have heavier-than-normal rains following the flooding in early October.

According to the NWS, the Orangeburg Airport received 17.85 inches of rain from Oct. 5 through Feb. 4, the period after the flooding rains. The normal amount is 13.4 inches.

Since Jan. 1, the airport has received 4.64 inches, compared to the normal of 4.27 inches, the NWS reports.

Last year, Orangeburg had a total of 55.5 inches of rain. The normal amount of rainfall for the year in Orangeburg is 46.73 inches.

Clemson Extension Agent Charles Davis said the rains after the flood have added insult to area farmers’ injuries.

"The rain that moved in post-flood has caused as much damage for us as the initial flood," he said. "We could not get back into the fields to harvest anything."

"If we had the flood and it dried up, we would have gone back in the field and harvested the peanut crop and it would have been OK," he continued. "But it kept raining and raining."

The rains continued to cause problems as they spilled over into the winter.

"Three-fourths of our wheat never got planted this year," he said.

Davis said farmers “can't catch a break.”

"Every time we get dried out and start getting ready for corn-planting season in getting the lime out and getting field work down ... it rains another three to four inches," he said.

The latest weather system is forecast to move out of the area, with a couple of dry days until a 40 percent chance of showers Saturday night.

The forecast for the next two weeks in The T&D Region calls for below-normal precipitation, according to the NWS.

Temperatures during the same time period are forecast to be below to near normal.

Contact the writer: gzaleski@timesanddemocrat.com or 803-533-5551. Check out Zaleski on Twitter at @ZaleskiTD


Business Reporter

Gene Zaleski is a reporter/staff writer with The Times and Democrat.

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