by Tom Ross, Meteorologist
We certainly have had interesting early fall weather across our mountains. We are still quite dry. We did pick up some badly needed rain in early October with about half an inch of rain from tropical moisture.
Matthew Left Us High and Dry
Damages from Hurricane Matthew in coastal communities from Virginia down through Florida will be in the billions; the total damages are still being calculated. Rainfall with Matthew was the highest across North Carolina, with totals exceeding 17 inches in a few spots south and east of Fayetteville. This is quite similar to what happened last year in the eastern Carolinas, with over 2 feet of rain in just four days across the midlands and eastern South Carolina. Last year the mountains picked up nearly a foot of rain from late September through early October. That total is a far cry from the meager rainfall of less than an inch or so we received over the same period this year.
These massive rainfall events, which have been to our south and east, are so dangerous because flowing water powerfully sweeps all obstacles out of its path. On average, U.S. flooding kills more than 100 people a year – more than any other single weather hazard, including tornadoes and hurricanes. The average flooding toll has increased in recent decades while deaths from tornadoes and hurricanes have dropped. Almost half of all flash-flood deaths are connected to stream crossings or highway travel. Victims often underestimate the power of water when driving into flooded areas. It takes only 18 inches of water to float a typical vehicle.
Between 1975 and 2000, over 170,000 people were killed by floods. Flooding kills people in every region of the world. The count of flood deaths is highest in South America, Southern Asia and Eastern Asia. Central Africa, Japan and Western Europe each account for less that 0.6% of flood deaths.
On into Winter
Turning more to winter weather, remember November 2014? We had snow falling on November 1, with the Asheville airport recording 3.2 inches of snow – a new daily record.
In any given November about an inch of snow falls across the area. In terms of temperatures, average high and low temperatures start out about 64° F at the beginning of the month and fall to 54° by month’s end. The low temperatures drop from 40° on the first of November to 32° on the last day of the month.
In terms of what to expect this winter, you have many choices to pick your favorite prognosticator — from the woolly worm or the Farmer’s Almanac to a more scientific choice: NOAA’s long-range winter forecast. Another good local source is Ray’s Weather, forecasting for the Western North Carolina region.
We will take a closer look at the winter forecast next month; meanwhile stay warm and hope for some more rain or even snow to help out our growing deficit of moisture.
Meteorologist Tom Ross managed NOAA’s Climate Database Modernization Program during his 25-year career at the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) in Asheville. He was a senior weather forecaster at Accu Weather in Pennsylvania. Tom teaches classes on weather that HAS and climate at various local venues.