A good soaking in the forecast

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BISHOPVILLE - Tropical Storm Nicole is expected to bring more rain this morning as it heads northeastward toward the South Carolina coast, forecasters said.

National Weather Service meteorologist Hunter Coleman said the Sumter area could see 1 to 2 inches of additional rain.

"Rain is going to be the only concern," he said.

While he expected "on-and-off showers" Wednesday, Coleman said the rain would become steadier into this morning, ending by mid-day.

Forecasters expected Nicole to weaken into a depression and become an extratropical system early today. The storm system is not expected to be a major problem for the southeast Atlantic Coast, Coleman said.

Winds are not expected to be a problem for the Carolina coast.

AccuWeather Meteorologist Tom Kines said the Sumter area is on the fringes of "more significant rain."

"Most of the heavy rain will probably be east of the Sumter area," Kines said. "And it is going to be a rain event."

Most locations in the tri-county area received 1 1/2 to 3 inches of rainfall Sunday through Tuesday from a cold front and upper level low pressure system moving eastward, Coleman said.

At 11 a.m. Wednesday, the center of Nicole was located over central Cuba with winds about 40 mph, and was moving northeast. The existence of an upper level low pressure system in northern Georgia and Alabama is enabling the tropical moisture to move northward, forecasters said.

Impressive rain totals have been good news for farmers in the tri-county area, said Clemson Extension Service agent Randy Cubbage.

"It would have been nice to have this come about two months ago," Cubbage said. "But I'm not complaining. I am delighted, and I am sure farmers are also delighted."

Soybeans and peanuts have especially benefited from the rainfall, Cubbage said.

"Some soybeans are beyond the point of no return," he said. "But most of the soybeans are benefiting from this rain. And we are in the middle of the harvest season for peanuts. There's a good bit of peanuts still in the ground, and they have benefited from the rain."

The rain came too late for corn, which already has been harvested. And the rain has not been good for cotton.

"Rain at this time is going to hurt the quality of the cotton," Cubbage said. "But you're not going to hear any of the farmers complaining about the rain. All of the farmers who have cotton also have other crops."

Forecasters said much drier and cooler weather is expected for central South Carolina by Friday and should continue into next week, Kines said. Morning lows are expected to be mostly in the 50s, with afternoon highs climbing only to the mid-to-upper 70s.

Low temperatures could dip into the upper 40s by Tuesday morning, Coleman said.

But forecasters warned that warmer weather is likely to return some time in October.

"I think you're going to get another warm surge by mid-October," Kines said. "Your normal highs at that time are the mid 70s. So it's not going to get too hot. You could get back into the upper 80s, but I don't think you're going to see the 90s again this fall."