- Associated Press - Thursday, October 1, 2015

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - The latest on the heavy rains forecast to fall in South Carolina:

7:05 p.m.

With the prospect of heavy rainfall and possible flash flooding threatening all parts of the state, Gov. Nikki Haley declared a state of emergency for South Carolina Thursday evening.

Haley said the state of emergency is necessary to make sure that preparations are being taken at all levels of government to protect the state from the predicted heavy rains that are forecast to last through the weekend.

The potential for several inches of rain in many parts of the state dropping on already saturated ground has officials worried about flash flooding, uprooting trees and downed power lines.

Haley also mentioned the potential threat of Hurricane Joaquin (wah-KEEN’) but forecasters Thursday night were predicting that the storm will stay further out in the Atlantic than was thought earlier in the day.

4:45 p.m.

Students in at least one school district in South Carolina are getting a surprise day off thanks to the heavy rain.

Charleston County schools will be closed Friday. Heavy rain and high tides caused flooding Thursday in the area, and more rain is expected Friday., possibly creating a danger for getting children to and from school on buses.

The district will make up the day later in October.

Other districts near Charleston say they are considering whether to keep a regular schedule Friday.

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3:15 p.m.

The potential of several inches of rain across South Carolina over the next three days is changing sports schedules across the state.

A number of high school football games will kick off earlier Friday or have been moved to Thursday.

The University of South Carolina cancelled the school’s softball Fall Carolina Classic that was going to bring teams from Charleston Southern, College of Charleston, Claflin and Spartanburg Methodist to Columbia.

Clemson’s football team hosts Notre Dame on Saturday night. School officials say the game is still set to kick off at 8 p.m., but school officials are keeping in touch with the National Weather Service and the Atlantic Coast Conference.

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2:35 p.m.

The National Weather Service is urging motorists to avoid driving in downtown Charleston unless absolutely necessary.

Forecasters said a storm that moved through early Thursday afternoon dumped at least 2 inches of rain on the city and the Weather Service posted a flash flood warning for areas of the city through early evening.

The Weather Service said that streets were expected to flood and with high tides, the water would be slow in receding from roadways.

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1:30 p.m.

Authorities have identified a woman killed in street flooding in South Carolina.

Spartanburg County Coroner Rusty Clevenger said in a news release Thursday that 56-year-old Sylvia Arteaga of Spartanburg died Thursday morning when her car was flooded.

Clevenger says Arteaga was driving underneath an overpass just outside the Spartanburg city limits when her car flooded “to capacity” inside.

Clevenger says an autopsy is scheduled to determine exactly how Arteaga died.

The South Carolina Highway Patrol is investigating. Clevenger says he does not believe Arteaga was involved in any sort of crash before her car flooded.

Forecasters say the freak flash flood happened when up to 4 inches of rain fell in a short time in the area, while places 10 miles away saw almost no precipitation.

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1:10 p.m.

Heavy rains were falling in downtown Charleston early Thursday afternoon, but it was high astronomical tides that closed a number of streets and intersections in the city before the rains began.

The tidal closings were largely on streets that run along the Cooper and Ashley rivers.

But city officials said streets were also closed in the area of the Charleston’s City Market, a popular open-air tourist attraction. And the rains caused workers to stop their work on a project designed to deal with flooding where U.S. 17 crosses the Charleston peninsula.

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12:55 p.m.

The South Carolina Emergency Management Division has opened its command center and raised its alert status as the state prepares for possible widespread flooding.

Emergency officials are asking state agencies to review plans and people to prepare. Forecasters say at least 3 to 5 inches of rain could fall starting Friday and lasting three days. There could be even more rain in isolated spots.

Hurricane Joaquin is expected to move well off the South Carolina coast this weekend, but forecasters say its moisture will enhance the rain over the state.

Emergency officials also are asking owners and operators of dams and reservoirs to check the structures for any weaknesses and lower water levels if possible to make sure they can handle the heavy rains.

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12:25 p.m.

Flood watches have been issued across nearly all of South Carolina as forecasters warn several inches of rain could fall in much of the state through Monday.

The official forecast from the National Weather Service says 3 to 5 inches of rain could fall, but other forecasts say up to a foot of rain could fall over three days starting Friday.

The heavy rain is being caused by a low pressure system forming in the state combining with moisture from Hurricane Joaquin which is expected to pass well off the South Carolina coast.

Any heavy rain Thursday should be isolated, so authorities are telling people to spend the day preparing for the weekend.

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