Across the Lowcountry, relief in sight as wet weather moves offshore

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Across the Lowcountry, relief in sight as wet weather moves offshore

By CASEY CONLEY
cconley@islandpacket.com
Published Saturday, May 19, 2012   |  488 Words  |  

The low pressure system that's been parked over the Southeast for almost two weeks, bringing soaking rains, humidity and lingering clouds, is finally moving out to sea.

But National Weather Service meteorologists in Charleston say the sunny, dry weather that characterized most of April and early May won't return just yet.

"It looks like it's going to start lifting out early next week," said meteorologist Jonathan Lamb. "It will probably be late next week, Thursday (or) into the weekend, when the pattern returns to a warmer, dryer pattern."

The unusually slow-moving storm system drenched parts of drought-plagued South Carolina over the past 10 days, dropping as much as 10 inches of rain in some places and temporarily pushing the Pee Dee and Congaree rivers toward flood stage.

Thirty-six locations throughout the state have received more than 3 inches of rain in the past 10 days. On Thursday alone, areas near Charleston and Myrtle Beach were inundated with more than four inches, according to the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network weather collective, which relies on volunteers to gather data.

Rain fell in Beaufort County every day from Monday through Friday last week, but it wasn't evenly distributed. Parts of Bluffton received up to two inches during that period, but sections of Hilton Head Island received less than inch, data shows.

"The thing about the rain is it's been very spotty, and we have had a lot of almost showers," said Carol Guedalia, a retail horticulturist with The Greenery on Hilton Head. "Some places have had some rain ... but it depends where you are."

Still, a few inches of rain likely won't be enough for state and federal officials to declare the drought over after months of below-average rainfall.

The U.S. Drought Monitor, which releases drought maps weekly, won't have new data factoring in last week's rain until later this week.

"It's not necessarily going to say the drought is over now because we got two inches of rain," Lamb predicted. "We are still well below normal."

Guedalia said short periods of intense rain aren't as beneficial to backyard plants as some might think.

"We need more slow, steady, deep rain so that the groundwater collects and the plants get a deep drink."

Based on the weather forecast, that probably won't happen anytime soon.

The State newspaper and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

Follow reporter Casey Conley at twitter.com/BlufftonBlogIP.

Related content:

Little relief forecast for ongoing drought conditions, 02/18/12


Second-driest April on record leaves county parched but not panicked, 05/01/12