Thursday, September 30, 2010

What happened at the coast? And how about us?

The unbelievably heavy rain that clobbered the Carolinas coast is proof once again that it doesn't take a Category 5 hurricane to create big weather problems.

Dying tropical storms, if given some help, can trigger deadly floods, tornadoes, and lots of other trouble.

In some ways, the situation Wednesday and early today on the coast looks similar to 1999, when Hurricane Floyd pushed ashore and set off flooding that killed 51 people. The similarities -- a tropical weather system was involved, and it moved into a stationary front.

Floyd was much, much more powerful than the wimpy Tropical Storm Nicole which died near Florida late Wednesday. But the energy from Nicole was absorbed by a pretty potent non-tropical storm system that formed off the South Carolina coast.

Meanwhile, a stationary front was along the Carolinas coast, separating humid air on the east from cooler air to the west. As low pressure neared the front, it set off very heavy rain.

The National Weather Service in Wilmington says rainfall totals will be in the vicinity of 21 to 23 inches (over a four-day period) when all is said and done.

You know how bad it was? It was so bad that CBS sent meteorologist Dave Price to Wilmington. And the Baron of Bad Weather, Jim Cantore of the Weather Channel, is on the coast.

Meteorologists told you the cut-off between heavy rain and lighter precipitation would be close to the Charlotte area, and they were right. Albemarle got more than 4 inches of rain. Charlotte, about 35 miles to the west, got about 2/3 of an inch. You could draw a line from Greensboro, down across Lexington, Albemarle, eastern Anson County, and then down to Florence ... and everything east of there got walloped by the storm.

Now what?

A taste of autumn, that's what! There's a weak low pressure system over Georgia that will push across our area during the day. The sun might come out at times this afternoon, but that weak low might trigger a few showers or thundershowers.

Clearing will follow tonight, and it'll be nice for a few days, with highs in the 70s and lows in the 50s.

The computers can't agree on Sunday and Monday, with some signs that another coastal storm system could bring rain to the Charlotte area. But after that, it'll turn even more fall-like, with sunshine and highs only around 70 degrees by next Tuesday and Wednesday.


Anonymous said...

So, next week will begin our 2 weeks or so of moderate autumn weather before the temperature precipitously drops into winter range. Because that's Charlotte - 5 months of nasty cold, rainy winters and 6 months of beastly hot, humid summers broken up by a couple of weeks of moderate 70 degree days in between. Basically, I've learned to live for that scant month of nice weather every year.

Anonymous said...

Am I the only one that thinks Jim Cantore has devolved into an egotistical, self-promoting blowhard? He is to the Weather Channel what Chris Berman is to ESPN.