Home News Tropical Storm Bertha brings heavy winds, potential flooding for Carolinas, Virginia

Tropical Storm Bertha brings heavy winds, potential flooding for Carolinas, Virginia

Bertha made landfall as a tropical storm Wednesday east of Charleston, S.C., bringing winds and heavy rain to the region before weakening to a tropical depression.

The tropical storm formed at about 8:15 a.m., becoming the second named storm of the current Atlantic hurricane season. It made landfall at 9:30 a.m. with sustained winds of 50 mph.

It was a tropical storm for almost six hours before weakening to a tropical depression.

Despite weakening quickly through the day, it still has the potential to cause very heavy rain and “life-threatening” flash flooding across parts of the Carolinas, southern Virginia, and over the southern Appalachians, according to the National Hurricane Center. More than 6 million people are under Flash Flood Watches including Charleston, Charlotte, and Roanoke.

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Bertha is expected to produce total rainfall accumulations of 2-4 inches with isolated totals up to 8 inches across eastern and central South Carolina, west central to far southeastern North Carolina and southwest Virginia.

The flash flooding threat is enhanced due to the heavy rain that fell across this region last week, leaving saturated soil and swollen rivers unable to handle much more water.

In addition to flooding, a low end tornado risk exists as well, especially across eastern North Carolina and South Carolina.

The tropical moisture associated with Tropical Storm Bertha is the same moisture that fueled three days of record-setting rainfall for the Miami area. Since the weekend, Miami picked up 14.6 inches of rain. 7 of those inches came in just 4 hours on Tuesday evening, making Tuesday Miami’s wettest day in 8 years — since May 2012 when more than 9 inches fell.

When you add Monday’s rainfall to Tuesday’s deluge, 10.84 inches over two days bested what fell during Hurricane Irma in 2017.

This has also become the wettest May on record for the city, with nearly 19 inches of rain. That is more than triple their average monthly rainfall, which is just over 5 inches.

The forecast for the SpaceX launch scheduled for Wednesday afternoon from Kennedy Space Center in Florida remains questionable because of the risk for scattered thunderstorms. The latest forecast has storms near or over Cape Canaveral from 3-5 p.m. and the launch is scheduled for 4:33 p.m. The 45th Weather Squadron makes the official forecast for the launch and they are giving weather conditions a 50% chance of violating launch weather constraints.

In addition to watching the weather at Kennedy Space Center, the forecasters will also be watching the weather along the eastern seaboard, where abort sites are located should they be needed due to an unexpected emergency. Even if the weather is acceptable at Kennedy Space Center, the launch may be scrubbed if enough of the abort sites have unfavorable weather.

Kathryn Prociv

Kathryn Prociv is a meteorologist and producer for NBC News. 

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