Over a FOOT of Rain; Sunny this Weekend
Good afternoon folks! Thursday was all that was needed to meet the 7 day forecasted rain totals we discussed on Sunday, with numerous sites across the Highlands Plateau/escarpment reporting 6 - 8" in 24 hours; from Sky Valley to Lake Toxaway, up to Little Canada/Big Ridge area in Jackson County. We originally lined up with the WPC and called for 4 - 6" over the course of 5 - 7 days, but now we are talking about totals in the 8 - 11" range for the area mentioned above, with Robinson Creek (just outside Panthertown) closing in on a foot of rain today (Friday). Elsewhere across SW NC, we picked up 3 - 5" over the same period, with a few towns like Waynesville hitting the 6" mark, which upended our call of central Haywood being a touch drier than the rest of SW NC during this stretch of rain. We expect another round of rain to move through this afternoon, mainly during the late afternoon hours and this should bring us another 0.10 - 0.50" of rain regionwide, likely pushing Robinson Creek to the 12" mark for the seven day period. Another neat fact from this stretch of rani.. Highlands picked up 7.28" on Thursday alone and 13.10" from Sunday into Thursday, which is the 15th highest 4 day stretch of rain in its 130 yr plus history of records.
As the upper level low (finally) ejects to the northeast today, a separate system will develop off the Carolina coast and move north over the next 48 hours. This will keep an easterly flow across the region through Saturday, but transition to a northerly flow as we approach Sunday. Not enough moisture will make it to our region Saturday to really impact our outdoor plans, with more sunshine than cloud cover for the vast majority of SW NC; partly cloudy with isolated showers along and near the SC state line. Full sunshine takes over Sunday as dry air wraps into the region, in tandem with an upper level ridge setting up shop overhead. This ridge keeps us dry through the middle of next week and temps will respond to rising heights, pushing to the mid 70's Saturday and upper 70's Sunday into Tuesday, possibly touching 80°F Wednesday. This ridge eventually is pushed east as an upper level trough moves east later in the week, which will bring showers back to the region, but nothing that points to another washout like this week.
We'll kick off the timeline on Saturday with more sun than clouds overhead and temps returning to the mid 70's for the valleys, possibly upper 70's for the heavier paved areas like Downtown Bryson City and Downtown Sylva. WCU Homecoming football game is Saturday and tailgating looks ideal, but dress for warm weather with late day partly cloudy skies being the only shade of the day. For those escaping the valleys but not avoiding the crowds, the Parkway looks ideal with temps in the low 60's for the high, alongside a steady northerly breeze and the slightest of chances for an isolated shower (probably a great setup for pictures). Fall colors are coming along nicely, however anything below 5000' remains 95% green, while the 5500' line and higher are in peak phase. Seems weird but this warmer weather is likely keeping the growing season extended for the low - mid elevations, while the highest ridgelines experienced a few mornings below 32°F, causing their turnover to occur faster (an educated guess on my part, Dr. Kathy Matthews at WCU would know). Temps settle into the upper 40's - mid 50's Saturday night under mostly clear skies; camping anyone?
Temps warm to the upper 70's Sunday for the valleys and this will hold through Tuesday, with temps making a run at the low 80's Wednesday and Thursday. Sunny skies with very little cloud cover will be the forecast Sunday through Thursday of next week, with mostly clear skies each night and temps settling into the low - upper 50's depending upon elevation. Even the highest peaks around 6400' will push into the low 60's Sun - Wed, when they should normally be in the low - mid 50's for the middle of October.
We'll stop here and circle back on Sunday, hopefully with more detail on the possible late week rain event that would bring with it slightly cooler temps. ENJOY!