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Article Type

Full Research Article – Regular Issue

Volume

7

Issue

1

Abstract

Over past years, extreme tropical storm events along the North and South Carolina coasts—and subsequent river flooding—have warranted the need for a better understanding of the hydrologic response to these events to protect life, property, businesses, and natural and cultural resources. Our focus in this study is the Pee Dee and Waccamaw River systems, which ultimately flow into Winyah Bay near Georgetown, South Carolina. River flows, coupled with the tidal nature of these freshwater systems, are complex and difficult to predict. The objective of the work is to analyze publicly available data from gauging stations along those river system as measured during Hurricanes Matthew and Florence and Tropical Storm Bertha—three uniquely different storm systems that produced varying rainfall depth, duration, and intensity across the Pee Dee Basin. The most important factor in tidal river analysis is the location of the stagnation point , where downstream river flow exactly balances upstream tidal flow. River flow only controls water level upstream of a tidal stagnation point, while ocean tide controls the water level downstream of a tidal stagnation point. An analysis of major flooding following Hurricanes Matthew, Florence, and Tropical Storm Bertha was used to determine the river flows associated with tidal stagnation at each stream gauge active during these storms. A major limitation of the analysis was a lack of flow data for the tidal channels in Georgetown County, which resulted in uncertainty in the flow associated with stagnation and uncertainty in the role played by each of the creeks that connect the Pee Dee and Waccamaw Rivers. Ignorance of the roles of these creeks most limited understanding of the relative importance of Pee Dee and Waccamaw flow to cause stagnation near Pawleys Island and Hagley gauges on the Waccamaw River and the Socastee gauge on the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway.

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