Rain from Beryl helps area hit by drought

Farmers and golf course superintendents are among those happy to see tropical depression Beryl arrive.

Though recent rain storms have helped, the state climatologist's office says rain levels in Horry County are still more than five inches below normal this year. Officials say this is the ninth year in the last 11 that some part of South Carolina has had unusually dry weather.

Andy Apple knows all about that. Apple is the course superintendent for The Witch and The Man O' War golf courses.

"It's just been a dry fall, dry winter and dry spring," Apple said.

Five to seven inches of rain would bring lake levels at those courses back up to near normal, Apple said, but he'd settle for much less rain than that.

"Two or three inches would help, because our golf course is set up where all water channels back into our lake so we would catch a lot of water from two or three inches of rain."

Clemson University extension agents say a heavy rain would be a godsend for local farmers, who have been watching the skies for a long time.

"Last summer was amazing how dry it was," said Ben Powell, a natural resources extension agent based in Conway. "We knew it was going to take a tropical storm to get us even anywhere close to where we need to be."

Powell said a good soaking rain from a tropical storm is often a good thing for farmers and gardeners and it's been quite awhile since we've had one of those storms hit the Grand Strand.

"We haven't had a tropical storm hit directly in the area for almost 3 years and we haven't had a big hurricane in, gosh, it's almost 13 years now, since (Hurricane) Floyd came through," Powell said.

But the key to solving the dry spell is a "soaking" rain, he said. The soil gets compacted during a drought, so Powell said much of the rain from Beryl could just run off or cause flash flooding, instead of soaking in.