2022 - A Review of the Year in FloodingJanuary 2, 2023
2022 seemed like a year of flooding extremes in Charleston. We spent about eight (8) month in abnormally dry conditions, and five (5) of those months were considered moderate drought. We typically average around 45-inches of rainfall a year, and we ended the year with a total of 39.2-inches. Reviewing NWS data for the peninsula, there have been three years since 2014 with below average rainfall (2014, 2019, & 2022), and 2022 was the driest. However, that does not mean that we did not see significant flood events throughout the year.
There were several instances of rainfall-induced stormwater flooding, particularly during the summer months. Reviewing the NWS Coastal Flood Event Database, it (unofficially) looks like we saw 70 tidal flood events over the year, which is the 2nd most on record (we saw 89 in 2019). We had the 13th and 14th highest tides on record in November and December, respectively. The NWS defines tidal flooding in Charleston as tides reaching or exceeding 7 feet above the mean lower low water (MLLW) datum, with tides reaching 7.5-ft MLLW as moderate flooding and 8.0-ft MLLW as major tidal flooding. We saw 70 tides reach flood stage (2nd most on record), 22 tides reach moderate flood stage (3rd most on record), and 3 tides reach major flood stage (4th most on record). Tropical Storm Colin (July) and Hurricane Ian (September) both passed very close to Charleston, and we also saw tidal flooding impacts from Hurricane Nicole (November). Ian, by far, had the greatest impact on Charleston (including high winds and significant stormwater flooding across the City), but we fortunate to avoid the impact of surge due to the storm’s path. Below is a visual recap of flooding throughout the year.