Regionwide Rain Returns Sunday into Monday
Good morning folks! The trend among the models continue to show a return to a pattern that will support scattered to widespread showers and thunderstorms, with rain chances and coverage picking up Sunday, peaking sometime Tues - Thur of next week. This is not set in stone as the models deal with an upper level low as the cause for the increase in rain chances and an upper level low is notoriously difficult to pin down when forecasting further than 3 days out. We do have a small window for rain today into tomorrow as the front continues it's slow crawl south of the area, possibly hanging up tomorrow and interacting with an upper level disturbance. This is a change from our previous discussion, which called for showers today but a drier setup Friday and Saturday. This being said, rain chances remain isolated so nothing to worry about, but if you are trying to see the peak color along Ivestor Gap trail then this might work against you as this area (southern end of the Great Balsams) is the bullseye for shower development Thursday, Friday, and Saturday; get up there sooner than later. Temps will remain warm today (Thursday) but trend down a few degrees Friday and Saturday, with another 2 - 3 drop on Sunday to the mid 70's, leveling out to the low 70's by Monday (as rain chances increase). As of today, the WPC is calling for 2.5 - 3.5" of rain to fall along the Highlands Plateau, escarpment, and southern end of the Great Balsams Sunday into Thursday, while the rest of SW NC picks up 1 - 1.75" over the same time period. All in all, we will transition from a warm, dry setup to a much cooler (by 9 - 12 degrees) and wetter pattern starting late Sunday, peaking Tues - Thur of next week. For those who are watching the color change, we are holding to the 10/2 - 10/8 window for peak color above 5800', while the mid elevations (3500 - 5800') seem to be on track for a mid October peak (10/10 - 10/18).
We'll kick off the timeline on Friday and the front should be south of the region, or just nearby and we are leaning toward the solutions that produce pop up showers along the highest ridgelines and across the southern portions of Macon, Jackson, and Haywood counties (including northern Transylvania counties). Further into the interior portion of SW NC (Franklin - Bryson City - Sylva - Cullowhee) we'll enjoy a mixed bag of sun and clouds, with temps warming to the upper 70's; mid 60's above 5500'. Temps bottom out to the upper 40's - upper 50's depending upon elevation, under partly cloudy skies.
Saturday looks better than Sunday if you need dry weather for a project or trip, but Sunday's rain chances will take most of the day to get going, with most of the action occurring closer to the SC state line. Temps Saturday warm to the upper 70's once again and will be similar to Friday, with a mixed bag of sun and clouds throughout the day, cooling down to the mid 70's Sunday for the valleys as more cloud cover builds overhead. Shower chances ramp up to scattered after 2pm on Sunday and expand across the region as the day moves along, taking most of the day to reach the northern sections of Macon, Jackson, and Haywood counties. It looks like Saturday is better than Sunday if you are trying to squeeze in some leaf peeping time, especially if you need to avoid the rain. Overnight lows settle into the low - upper 50's depending upon elevation, under partly cloudy skies Saturday night, alongside scattered showers throughout the night Sunday night.
Monday into Wednesday of next week has a lot of potential for periods of widespread rain and this will keep temps to the upper 50's - low 70's depending upon elevation, which is just a degree or two off from normal for early October. It's too far out to time the windows of rain but plan for periods of continuous rain, with pop up showers occurring in between rounds of rain, from Monday into Wednesday. Still nothing on the horizon that shows temps in the 30's at any elevation, but we'll take the rain after so many days of bone dry weather. We'll circle back on Saturday late morning with a new discussion, sometime around 11:30am.