Beryl drops much-needed rain, produces tornado - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina

Beryl drops much-needed rain, produces tornado

Tropical Depression Beryl dropped several inches of rain in many areas of the Midlands, but also left behind flooded roads and produced a tornado early Wednesday morning.

The National Weather Service confirmed a weak tornado tore through Holly Hill around 1 a.m. with wind speeds topping 105 miles per hour.

The high winds snapped trees and ripped some out of the ground. Shingles were torn from rooftops.

"A lot of the trees were snapped off at the top. There's a cornfield back there that there is a rotational pattern in the cornfield, but the corn wasn't completely flattened," NWS meteorologist Michael Cammarata said.

At the New Galilee Christian Church, the storm took down trees, blew a window out, and left the yard a mess. It rained so hard the front lawn looked like a pond. Church members say the ditch near the church overflowed.

"This is the first time we've seen it, water all the way up from the ditch to the church. This ditch row here, we've never seen it like that. This is devastating to us," Church Elder Samuel Daily said.

"It's a little damage, but thank the Lord it's not worse because in fact there is somebody else out there that has gotten much more damage than we got," Church Deacon Charles Clark said.

NWS says the worst storm damage was off Coach Road and Unity Road area. They say there was no significant structural damage due to the storm. There were no reports of any injuries from the storm in Holly Hill.

There were also sporadic reports of downed trees and some flooded roads in Orangeburg County.

The National Weather Service has determined that the damage off Cherry Hill Rd. in Cordova is from straight line winds. They found a lot of branches down in the area, but no evidence of a tornado.

One person died when a tree fell on the SUV they were driving just west of Orangeburg during the height of the storm.

The intersections of Indian Rd. and US 301 and Highway 176 and SC 33 were closed overnight because of flooding, but have since reopened.

The storm did bring some much-needed rain to the state. Beryl is going down as a "drought buster" for many in the southern Midlands where rain totals topped 3-4 inches in some areas. However, less than an inch fell in many areas north of Columbia.

The depression's maximum sustained winds increased early Wednesday to near 35 mph (55 kph). Additional strengthening is expected and the U.S. National Hurricane Center says Beryl could regain tropical storm strength later in the day.

Beryl is expected to dump up to 6 inches of rain, with isolated amounts of 8 inches, in northeastern South Carolina and eastern North Carolina.

The depression is centered about 25 miles (40 kilometers) north-northeast of Charleston, and is moving east-northeast near 14 mph (22 kph). On that track, forecasters say the depression's expected to skim along the South Carolina coast before moving back over the Atlantic.

Copyright 2012 WIS. All rights reserved. WCSC and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

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