Experience The Warmth

We in Charleston have reverted back to October, apparently. If you’ve stepped outside, you’ve undoubtedly noticed the return of warm, mid-70s temperatures, Charlestonian humidity and a familiar urge to dodge mosquitoes. Funk-nasty. This is happening thanks to a system pumping a very warm southerly flow into the area.

Well, this sort of thing doesn’t last too long in December, and typically, these temperature differences resolve themselves with force. A fairly potent storm system is sweeping through the middle of the country, causing plenty of problems with severe weather across Texas and into Mississippi and Alabama. So, as you might expect, we’ve got a slight risk of severe weather tomorrow, which primarily hinges on how much sunshine peeks through before the front arrives. In fact, the outer portions of the storm are showing up on radar.

So, keep an eye out during the day tomorrow — it could get a little rough at times. It’ll be through by Friday, and we’ll get back into upper 50s for highs (though the lows aren’t currently projected to be as low as they have been, which is good for my getting up on time). One thing is for certain, this late fall has been anything but normal; we just can’t seem to figure that out this time around.


Rains have pulled away — now, for the aftermath

Who knows what kind of soggy mess we’re going to see when day breaks tomorrow — I can imagine it’s going to be pretty bad for folks at Northwoods Mall and in the Shadowmoss subdivision. My buddy Tom called and said he had to try three different ways to get in before he could actually access his house near the golf course. He said he saw a river running through the cartway.

Well, rivers generally begin running after ridiculous storm totals like these, which just came over the wire from the National Weather Service.

Public Information Statement
Statement as of 12:48 PM EDT on October 25, 2008

The following are unofficial storm total rainfall amounts for the
last 24 hours ending at midnight EDT Saturday.

…South Carolina…
Beaufort 2 N 4.54
Beaufort mcas 3.67
Bennetts Point 4.11
Charleston Airport 6.57
downtown Charleston 5.23
Dorchester 4.96
Goose Creek 4 se 6.74
Hardeeville 7 S 3.62
Hardeeville 13 S 4.17
Huger 3 NNE 6.58
McClellanville 6.41

short stay 3.13
west Ashley 5.62
Witherbee 6.10

Here’s hoping that in the end people are minimally impacted, but tomorrow morning will provide the grim details of the aftermath of today’s record rainfall.

Midday update: The Digitel says Ashley Ave. downtown is still underwater this morning. Having lived there for several years, I’m not surprised in the slightest.


Heavy flooding in Charleston tonight

Heavy rains have inundated Charleston most of the day — mix that with a high tide enhanced by an onshore wind, and you have trouble.

This is one Friday night to stay inside. The roads are at best an inconvenience; at worst, they are potentially deadly. Floodwaters are still rising throughout the area as heavy rain continues to pound Charleston. Lots of places are underwater and threaten to become impassable this evening, including:

  • Calhoun at Ogier St, Downtown
  • Vanderhorst at Smith St, Downtown
  • Spring St. past Crosstown, before Ashley River bridges
  • Start of Highway 61 just off Ashley River bridges (West Ashley)
  • Highway 61 just north of Sam Rittenberg before Paul Cantrell Blvd. (West Ashley)
  • Highway 61 between Tobias Gadson Rd. and Magwood Rd. (West Ashley)
  • Long Point Road between 17N and Whipple Rd. (Mt. Pleasant) (thanks to Chad Norman)
  • Market, Concord, and Hazel St. Downtown (NWS)
  • Many streets in the Shadowmoss subdivision (West Ashley) (NWS)
  • Main Road and Hwy. 17 in James Island (passable) (NWS)
  • Many roads in Summerville (NWS)
  • River Road on James Island (NWS)
  • Hwy 17 and Orleans Road impassable in West Ashley (NWS)
  • Reports of cars floating in Northwoods Mall parking lot, 2 feet of water in stores (Storm Team 2)
  • All of East Bay south of Mount Pleasant Street (Ken Hawkins/The Digitel)
  • Grove & Simons at Rutledge (Downtown) (Janet Edens Conover)

Spotters in Goose Creek have measured nearly 7″ of rain since midnight at Charleston Southern University. Similar reports of over 6″ of rain in West Ashley have been recorded, and that was a couple hours ago; I suspect the area will receive upwards of 7″ to in some areas approaching 8″ of rain before this is all said and done. The College of Charleston weather station has recorded nearly 5.5″ of rain as of 10:51 PM.

Update 10:46 PM: Eugene Mah sends this blog along, complete with a photo of his backyard which has got a bit of a river going through it at the moment. Also, here’s an incredible flooding picture from ABC News 4.

Update 11:11 PM: Rob Fowler reported over Twitter that I-26 into Downtown at Cosgrove is being closed.

Update 11:32 PM: We have absolutely shattered the official rainfall record for today at the airport with 6.54″ of rain. The record, which stood for exactly a year, was like 2.32″ or something.

Update 11:34 PM: Dan Tennant tweeted this picture of him standing in his yard. Yikes!

Update 11:35 PM: “Notoriously Nice” Mike Courtney sends along this photo from his backyard in Shadowmoss. Shadowmoss is in extremely bad shape tonight — big problems on the golf course.

A Flash Flood Warning is in effect for most of the Charleston metro area until 2:15 AM. I cannot reiterate this enough, but tonight is not a good night to go out. Stay indoors and off the roads; they are deadly. If you must drive — and there aren’t a lot of places to safely do that — be very careful of floodwaters and turn around, don’t drown. You can’t tell how deep they are, especially at night.

I’ll update this list through the night. Contact me over Twitter using @chswx or send e-mail to with any flooding reports you may have — I’ll relay them over Twitter and update this list. Also watch Twitter for any video updates I may do through the evening (I’ve done one already and will likely do at least one more).


Severe setup for tomorrow

A fairly spring-like and potentially damaging weather event seems to be coming together for tomorrow. A really potent disturbance is making its way through the South, firing off some severe weather including tornadoes. We’ll be seeing that tomorrow — yes, with a threat of tornadoes — as well as a chance for some extremely high winds (some reaching up to 45 to 50 MPH 35 to 40 MPH at times even outside of thunderstorms, mostly in coastal areas). We’ve currently got a High Wind Watch for areas along the coast, and that could be bumped to a warning if the pressure gradient does indeed tighten the way forecasters expect it to. As expected, the Storm Prediction Center has us in a “slight” risk of severe weather tomorrow, so definitely keep an eye out to the skies and be ready for the unexpected. With the risk of high winds tomorrow, it may not be a bad idea to pull some loose stuff in tonight.

My day job has me sequestered in training for most of the day, but I’ll pop in during breaks in case something occurs.

UPDATE: The High Wind Watch was downgraded to a Wind Advisory, which takes effect at 1 PM. NWS now believes that the low, while still quite potent, won’t kick up the higher 45-50 MPH winds as first thought.

In Brief Weather

Tornado Watch

Twitter’s down so I need to blog this one…Tornado Watch is out until 10:00 — there are some cells headed this way, too, so keep alert!


A soupy mess coming together this weekend

Keep an eye to the sky this weekend, folks. We’ve got quite a setup for a pretty significant severe weather outbreak tomorrow, which unfortunately gets in the way of Mother’s Day. There’s also a chance that today could get particularly rough, particularly in the afternoon as the heating of the day kicks in and kicks off those summer thunderstorms we all know and love. I’m particularly worried about the afternoon CofC commencement ceremony, which starts at 4 — typically the time of peak intensity for these isolated thunderstorms. Here’s hoping they avoid the peninsula until after the conclusion of that ceremony. Radar’s not showing much yet, though that could change literally at any time.

Keep an eye here or on @chswx on Twitter, as I do send tweets in severe weather situations. I also have started to do some live weather broadcasting when conditions warrant, including a quick briefing I produced this morning about this weekend’s setup. Typically, I’ll broadcast in heavy weather situations as well in addition to sending tweets — I take the SuperDeeDooperDoppler full, have interactive chat, and it’s a really great experience. Join us next time!

UPDATE: A snippet from the National Weather Service after the jump.

Weather Weather Station

Who needs The Weather Channel when you have Ustream?

Tonight a bunch of people and I learned, once again, the power of the Internet. A storm became unexpectedly severe and plowed its way through Dorchester and Berkeley counties this evening. I went live on a Charleston weather-themed Ustream channel with the SuperDeeDooperDoppler and, for over two hours, was able to give a rundown of what the storm was doing at a particular time and was able to get people to safety when the storm was at its worst, whether it was spewing 60+ MPH gusts in downtown Summerville or chucking golf-ball size hail in Ridgeville. I was able to get feedback in real time in the chat room that Ustream supplied, and that part rocked most of all. One-way weather broadcasts from television don’t give anybody that kind of luxury at all, especially when the storm knocks television out. People were able to relay their reports in real-time and that was excellent. In a way, I’m hoping it stays clear for a bit — two hours of wall-to-wall is probably enough after a long day at work. :) It just felt good to be able to help people.

Imagine what I would have done with Ustream during Ernesto in August 2006, when I live-blogged for three days every advisory that came down with predictions and such. A part of me almost can’t wait for another storm now!

This summer I’m looking to significantly expand my weather outlet, to the point where it will likely be spun off from this site under its own domain. One of the pieces of this is somewhat in play now as I’ve created a Charleston Weather Twitter account to relay conditions, forecasts, and advisories. I wouldn’t rely on it for timeliness right now, though — it’s using Twitterfeed to shoot the information through, so there is a giant delay between checking feeds. I still need to write a proper bot for it, which I’m hoping to tackle this month. The Ustream channel is another piece of the puzzle. I plan to offer up some sort of rotating feature with radar and other things once I can find a box to dedicate to it. I will also use the Ustream channel for periodic weather reports as well as coverage during severe weather situations.

Sadly, the most obvious piece of the puzzle, my weather station, won’t be around much longer. I’m moving in a few weeks, which will force me to end my station downtown after two fantastic years. I’m not sure if I will bring it up yet in my new location (likely to be west of the Ashley), so my backyard conditions may come to an end. However, there are other stations out there, and I’m not overly concerned with taking mine down knowing that others will be able to spring up in my place.

I wanted to write more about my setup here, but I’m getting pretty tired; that will be for a later post.

I’m not sure what I’m on to here, but I can’t help but think it’s a good thing that will enhance weather awareness and, more importantly, explore how the social media space can be used to disseminate important information in an interactive manner.


Three confirmed tornadoes in the Tri-County Saturday

The National Weather Service has confirmed three tornado touchdowns in the tri-county area on Saturday, including one in Strawberry (about three miles north of my parents’ house) that did serious damage to a mobile home park up that way and injured a few people. Thoughts are with everybody affected up that way.

The tornadoes were all of the EF1 variety. EF is the Enhanced Fujita scale, an estimation of tornado winds based on damage (most weather stations don’t survive a tornado impact, which makes recording true tornado wind speeds all but impossible). Here’s more on the EF Scale.

NWS’ take on the events beyond the jump.


Video of the storm from my place

Got a pretty cool video of the worst of today’s storm hitting here downtown. I’m uploading a shorter version to YouTube right now, but here’s about 10 minutes of video of the worst part of the storm on the Charleston peninsula. It’s in QuickTime format. Will get it in WMV later — ideally, the YouTube version will be better.

I was on the phone with my brother most of the time, and was relaying a play-by-play. There was no tornado downtown, but a couple times I thought there was. I swore a couple times, too — heat of the weather.

Enjoy. Feel free to pass this around or use on air (*cough*) with credit. Consider this Creative Commons.

Severe Weather Downtown


“Particularly dangerous situation” — Tornado Watch until 1am

The National Weather Service has issued a tornado watch for the Charleston area until 1am tomorrow. Here’s some highlights from NWS:

…This is a particularly dangerous situation…

Destructive tornadoes…large hail to 2.5 inches in diameter…
thunderstorm wind gusts to 80 mph…and dangerous lightning are
possible in these areas.

Stuff is already erupting to the north of us and with authority. SuperDeeDooperDoppler has been activated and is really busy. Here’s a frame grab from the KCAE radar site just to the southwest of Columbia proper:

Supercell Outbreak - KCAE Radar Site

Some of those reflectivity levels are as high as I’ve ever seen them. Here’s what NWS has to say on the subject:

Discussion…severe thunderstorm outbreak underway as powerful 100kt
mid level jet and associated vort move across sern U.S. This
evening. Tornadic supercells will continue to develop ewd across
watch area thru the evening with potential for long lived damaging
tornadoes along and S of warm front which extends enewd into sern

Keep alert tonight. Unlike that Tuesday where nothing happened, there was a lot of sunshine today, and thus a good chance for a lot of instability out ahead of this monster. This system has a history of causing some serious damage and spawning incredible tornadoes — just ask Atlanta residents.

Update (5:13 PM)

Brian Goode points out the Storm Prediction Center has painted points west of the coast in a high risk zone for severe weather. According to Brian, that’s the first time this has ever happened. Wow.