Rainfall deficits across SC visible in lakes, forests

By Tom

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- Traveling through the Upstate of South Carolina can be abeautiful experience with the winding roads and lush terrain. Unless you getoff the interstate, one would not notice just how dry the Upstate is or, forthat matter, the entire state of South Carolina.

It was really brought to my attention when I drove by Lake Hartwellin Clemson on Christmas Day. The lack of rain for the Upstate was readily shownwith how low the water line was in the lake. The Full Pool Level of the lake is660 feet.

However, the level was only 645.88 feet on Christmas Day.That means the lake was down 14.12 feet from the full pool level. It's trulyvisible with the water line being so clear even to the driver going 75 mph.

In May of 2011, the level of the lake was 652 feet, which isthe highest it's been in the past five years. The lack of rainfall and run-offcontinues for the Upstate.

In the Lowcountry, {}Lake Moultriehas seen better days with yearly rain fall. The Full Pool Level for Lake Moultrieis 75.5 feet. At present it is 72.8 feet.

The South Carolinacoast and much of the state depends on annual tropical systems to bring inmuch-needed rainfall. A tropical system does not have to have a direct impactto produce rain. Storms that move onshore even in the Gulf of Mexico may spreadrain to the north and east, covering much of the Palmetto State.

Two tropical systems that did have an effect -- a small oneat that -- on the Palmetto State this year was tropical storms Beryl and Debby.TS Beryl produced 6 inches of rain in JasperCounty, but only 1 inch of rain in Charleston County.

For Debby, we need to look at the rain fall in areas of Florida. Many parts of Florida received over 20inches of rain from Tropical Storm Debby. The winner was Curtis Mill, Fla. with 28.78 inchesof rain.

In South Carolina, Debby onlydropped one to three inches of rain in Charleston County.

North Charlestonhas picked up 2.74 inches of rain for the month of December, bringing our totalfor the year to 43.15 inches. Normally we would have 50.60 at this time. It'sstill a rainfall deficit of 7.45 inches.

But if we go back to last year's rain fall amount of 37.01inches of rain, that is a departure of over 13 inches for the year. We aredoing better this year, but still behind for what we need.