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Article Type

Full Research Article

Volume

6

Issue

1

Abstract

This paper examines data from 18 USGS gauges in the lower Pee Dee Basin in an effort to explain the behavior of the flooding following Hurricane Florence (2018) in Georgetown County, South Carolina. Despite record or near-record flooding in all the tributaries to the Winyah Bay estuary, water levels near the city of Georgetown were well below predicted heights. Floodplain storage in the lower Great Pee Dee, Lynches, and Little Pee Dee River valleys stored over 1.2 million acre-feet of floodwaters, delaying peak stage near Bucksport for five days and reducing peak flow into the Winyah Bay tidal river/estuary system by nearly 50%. An unknown amount of flow from the Winyah Bay tidal river/estuary system flowed through the Atlantic Intracoastal Water Way to Little River rather than through Winyah Bay. The resulting freshwater flow to Winyah Bay only moved the point of tidal stagnation (where upstream tidal flow balances downstream freshwater flow) to near Georgetown. Since the city of Georgetown was near the point of stagnation, water level there was driven by ocean tidal height rather than river flood stage. The lack of discharge data from the tidal rivers in Georgetown County prevents evaluation of the importance of each of these factors and will limit efforts to make quantitative predictions of future flooding in the county.

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