CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - A storm is quickly expanding across the southeast and will increase the rain chances throughout Sunday.
According to Live 5 Meteorologist Stephanie Sine, more widespread rain is possible late Sunday afternoon and this evening.
“When all is said and done the amount of rain received today, tomorrow and early Tuesday could put this month in the running for one of the wettest Decembers on record,” Sine said.
The intensity of the rain should pick up overnight and throughout the day on Monday with most areas receiving between 4 to 6 inches of rain, but it’s possible some areas could get well above this mark.
Sine said heavy rain during high tides Monday morning would cause widespread flooding to low-lying areas, especially in downtown Charleston. High tide is around 5:30 a.m. in the Charleston Harbor.
Winds may gust to around 20 mph Sunday night and then strengthen overnight through Monday morning. Some gusts could approach 30 to 35 mph.
Sunshine will return Christmas Eve after a chance for morning rain.
“A comfortable and mostly sunny Christmas is ahead with highs approaching the 70s,” Sine said."A stretch of warmth is in store for the last week of December."
Flash Flood Watch in Effect
A flash flood watch in effect through Tuesday morning for much of South Carolina ahead of a strong coastal low that will deliver periods of heavy rain beginning Sunday.
In the Lowcountry, the watch includes Charleston, Berkeley, Dorchester, Colleton, Beaufort, Williamsburg, Georgetown, Allendale, Jasper, and Hampton Counties.
The system will track across the southeast Sunday and Monday, Live 5 Chief Meteorologist Bill Walsh said.
“This is a strong storm for this time of year and we can expect heavy rainfall, gusty winds and some flooding,” Walsh said.
Flood potential will be highest on Monday morning with a 6.2-foot tide at approximately 5:48 a.m.
Rainfall totals are expected to total between 4 to 6 inches of rain for most of the Lowcountry. But some models predict rainfall totals could reach nearly 7 inches in Charleston, nearly 8 inches in North Charleston. Isolated areas could see more than 8 inches of rainfall, Meteorologist Danielle Prinz said.
The highest rainfall totals are expected in the Tri-County area.
The Live 5 Weather team declared Monday as a First Alert Weather Day because of the risk for flooding.
The Charleston Fire Department posted a reminder to drivers that they should not drive around any posted barricades at flooded roads. Just 12 inches of water can sweep a car off the road, the post states.
A wind advisory is in effect for coastal counties.
Wind speeds could reach 15 to 25 mph with gusts of up to 30 to 35 mph inland and 20 to 30 mph with gusts of up to 40 mph near the coast.
This could lead to downed trees, especially given the expected wet ground conditions. Isolated power outages could also occur. Higher winds on elevated bridges.
A High Surf Advisory is also in effect as waves breaking at the beaches could reach 5-8 feet. Dangerous surf conditions are expected and significant beach erosion is possible.
Walsh said the rains should clear out by Tuesday morning. The Christmas Day forecast will be sunny and warm with a high near 70, he said.
The City of Charleston released the following information on preparations:
In consultation with the National Weather Service, City of Charleston emergency management officials have begun finalizing preparations for a significant storm event beginning overnight tonight and continuing through Tuesday evening.
The worst conditions are currently expected overnight Sunday into the early hours of Monday morning, as high tides and heavy rains combine to cause flooding on low-lying city streets.
As always, city emergency management officials urge motorists to avoid flooded roadways and exercise caution when driving in areas prone to flooding.
In addition, with residential garbage collection suspended for the Christmas holiday, citizens are asked to retrieve and secure any cans that may have been placed curbside.
At present, city crews are continuing to monitor ditches and storm drains and perform pre-storm preventative maintenance. Portable pumps have been secured and pre-positioned for use as needed.
City police are monitoring conditions and will work with city Traffic and Transportation officials to manage road closures and re-openings as conditions warrant.
"Based on the latest forecast, we would encourage motorists to avoid unnecessary travel in the city over the next 48 hours, particularly overnight tonight through mid-day Monday," said city Emergency Director Shannon Scaff. "For those who must be out, please remain aware of the possibility of flash flooding and use alternative routes to avoid driving through any standing water you may encounter."
City officials will remain in close communication with the National Weather Service throughout the storm, and ask citizens to monitor local media for weather-related news and updates until it has cleared the area.
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