BRIEF: Feel soggy? Leaked report provides insights

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There sure has been a lot of rain around the Midlands and coast over the last 30 days, and now a federal report shows major rain events are occurring with higher frequency over the last 100 years in our area of the country.

According to the draft of a  leaked federal science report, climate change is affecting regions of the United States. The Associated Press reported Wednesday that there’s been an 8 percent increase in extreme rain in the Southeast over the last 100 years.  By 2100, rainfall could go up another 21 percent.

Piggybacking report’s release, The Post and Courier wrote that by the next century, Charleston could flood every day.

South Carolina was grouped in with Virginia, Kentucky, North Carolina, Tennessee, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and Florida in  the report.

S.C. Climatologist Hope Mizzell told Statehouse Report that comparing the regional data with the state data would be no quick or easy task, and it would be a big report unto itself. The state tracks annual precipitation, but it is not comparable to the federal data.

In the previous two years, however, South Carolina has had two major rain events in October: The 1,000-year flood in 2015 and Hurricane Matthew in 2016.

While weather and climate are not necessarily the same thing, many around the state are experiencing a lot of wet weather over the last 30 days. But Mizzell said it’s not much wetter than normal precipitation. In fact, there are still incipient drought conditions in Barnwell, Aiken, Edgefield, Saluda, Greenwood, McCormick, Abbeville, Laurens, Newberry, Fairfield, Union, Laurens, Greenville, Spartanburg, Cherokee, York and Chester counties.

Mizzell said that in the last 30 days, the Midlands to the coast have experienced either normal or above-normal precipitation.

But that is still a lot more rain than what many have come to expect. Since the late 1990s, South Carolina has had more drought years than years with normal rainfall, Mizzell said.

Sound contradictory? As odd as it may sound, South Carolina can experience extreme rain events and the year could still end up being classified as a drought year. For example, most the South Carolina was in a drought in 2015 and remained in a drought after the historic flood.

— Lindsay Street, Statehouse correspondent



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