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Weekly Wrap-Up: Historic Flooding Grips South Carolina; Coast Guard Suspends Search for Crew of El Faro

By By Kevin Byrne, Staff Writer
October 13, 2015, 6:50:00 AM EDT

One of the most intense and long-lasting rainstorms in recorded history slammed the Carolinas this week, bringing widespread and dangerous flooding.

Devastating effects were reported across South Carolina where at least 17 people were killed, according to the South Carolina Department of Public Safety. Hundreds of roads were closed and tens of thousands were without power and drinking water. President Obama signed a disaster declaration to expedite federal assistance to the flood-ravaged state.

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"This flood disaster has been like nothing South Carolina has ever seen," Gov. Nikki Haley said.

According to AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski, “A very unusual combination of weather factors came together in just the right way to produce rainfall rates rarely experienced and total rainfall never precisely recorded before in part of the southern United States.”


"The key players included a strengthening non-tropical storm in the South, a strong area of high pressure in Canada and converging tropical moisture from Hurricane Joaquin and near the equator," Sosnowski said.

The National Weather Service Office in Columbia, South Carolina, said the event began Friday, Oct.2 and continued through the morning of Oct. 4 with light rain persisting in some areas through Monday.

More than 20 inches of rain fell in some locations, the NWS said.

Multiple dams have breached or failed due to the stress of high floodwaters in South Carolina this week. Mandatory evacuations were executed in areas of major concern.

As a result of the devastating flooding, the University of South Carolina decided to move Saturday's football game against No. 7 Louisiana State University to Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The game was originally slated to be played as a home game in Columbia, South Carolina, but officials made the decision to relocate so as not to strain resources in the flood-ravaged area. 

Flooding was not only limited to the Southeast and mid-Atlantic. Heavy, gusty thunderstorms moving through the Southwest helped deliver new daily rainfall records in some locations, while washing away roads in others.

Las Vegas received 0.62 of an inch on Tuesday, setting a new daily rainfall record. In Death Valley National Park, flash flooding caused road closures after some roads were damaged by floodwaters.


After intensifying to a Category 4 hurricane and bringing significant damage to parts of the Bahamas, Joaquin never made landfall in the U.S. The storm continued to weaken slowly as it moved across the northern Atlantic.

The U.S. Coast Guard announced that it was suspending the search for possible survivors from the crew of the cargo ship, El Faro, which is believed to have sunk during Joaquin. On board the ship were 28 Americans and five Polish nationals.

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Oho developed into a tropical storm late Friday, Oct. 2. The storm eventually strengthened into a hurricane and reached Category 2 status. Despite not making landfall, the storm still sent rough surf to Hawaii.

The formation set a new record for the number of tropical cyclones to develop in the central Pacific in a hurricane season with a total of seven, the Central Pacific Hurricane Center said. Typhoons continued to raise concerns in the West Pacific, with Choi-Wan becoming the latest storm to threaten parts of Asia.

Several AccuWeather meteorologists and staff writers contributed content to this article.

Have questions, comments, or a story to share? Email Kevin Byrne at, follow him on Twitter at @Accu_Kevin. Follow us @breakingweather, or on Facebook and Google+.

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