Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Nicole: Trouble or relief?

Tropical Storm Nicole appears destined to pay the Carolinas a visit.

But how close will the storm's impact come to the Charlotte area? And how much of the Charlotte area?

The bigger question: Will Nicole be drought relief for Charlotte, or a troublemaker?

That all depends on the storm's track, and meteorologists are having a tough time with this system. On Wednesday morning, the disorganized center of the system was about 150 miles south of Key West. Steering winds will carry the storm northward, probably along or near the east coast of Florida.

So far, the depression's strongest winds have been on its eastern side, which means Florida could escape the worst of it (although "worst" might not be the right word, because Nicole won't be a strong tropical storm).

Then, as the storm moves toward anticipated landfall in the Carolinas, it is forecast to lose its tropical characteristics.

When that happens, the area of rainfall widens to all sides of the storm.

The computer models can't agree on how far inland the heavy rain will spread, but it could be very close to the Charlotte area.

Worst-case scenario ... Nicole (or whatever it is, at that point) makes landfall somewhere around Myrtle Beach on a north-northwest track. That would bring 2 to 4 inches of rain to Charlotte, especially along and east of I-77. The farther east you go, the heavier the rain. Places like Richmond and Scotland counties could get 5 inches.

The most likely scenario ... Nicole makes landfall around Wilmington, moving north. Rain moves into Charlotte, but about 1 to 1.5 inches falls. West of I-77, totals are even less. For example, Shelby might get only 1/4 to 1/2 of an inch. That much rainfall for Charlotte would be good.

We'd all get our lawns aerated and make a run on the garden stores for seed and fertilizer.

The rain that moved through the Charlotte area before daybreak was not connected directly with the tropical system. But the precipitation totals give a hint as to what we can expect later. About 1/5 of an inch fell at the airport. A gauge in Matthews measured about 1/3 of an inch. And nearly 1/2 of an inch fell in Monroe.

The farther east you go ...

So here's what to expect: We'll get a break from the rain for a good bit of the day. It might shower once or twice, but that activity will be scattered. Later this afternoon, precipitation from the tropical system will move up the coast and then inland.

Steady rain will begin falling this evening and continue overnight. By later this afternoon, we should have a better idea on what to expect in rainfall totals.

The rain should end Thursday morning, and partial sunshine could return by afternoon.

Look for clear and cooler weather the rest of the week, after a high around 80 Thursday. By Sunday, daytime highs will be near 70.

More later ...


Anonymous said...

Thank God for this rain and relief from hot weather.

For a couple months there NC was looking kind of like a dry and dusty desert. With the recent rains everything is turning green and fertile again, just like NC should.