CHARLOTTE, N.C. – After weeks of dry weather in the Carolinas, desperately needed rain reached the western part of the state late Monday.
The forecast is a relief for emergency crews battling wildfires in the North Carolina mountains and foothills, as thousands of acres have burned this month.
“The rain will help control the fires, but with the winds, might not necessarily be the best news for putting them out entirely,” said Chief Meteorologist Brad Panovich.
So what can we expect in Charlotte? Panovich says the Charlotte area could see up to an inch of rain as part of this system, which was making its way across the mountains late Monday. Because there’s been such little rainfall in the area recently, Tuesday’s commute is expected to be slick as the roads are experiencing true wet conditions for the first time in months.
Tuesday's forecast calls for off-and-on showers throughout the day, with most of the rain coming in the early afternoon hours around Charlotte. As of Tuesday morning, Charlotte was at an eight-inch rainfall deficit for the year.
In some of the higher elevations, where fires have been raging for several weeks, up to five inches of rain could fall, helping to contain the flames.
“I kind of backed off the totals in the mountains,” Panovich said. I think we’ll see lower amounts than forecasted, but my experience is you always get surprised with these isolated upslope areas where somebody comes up with five-to-seven inches of rain. The radar doesn’t do justice to this type of setup.”
As the system reached the Tennessee-North Carolina border, strong wind reports began to circulate. Some areas saw non-thunderstorm winds up to 60 mph.
“As the system moves from Tennessee and into the North Carolina mountains, it has impressive radar, but the winds not even associated directly with the rainfall have been impressive,” Panovich said.
Light rain began to fall around 9:30 Monday night in the mountains. Panovich says southeastern-facing slopes will receive the heaviest rain, with the heaviest showers making their way into the region by 3 a.m.
Areas of Burke, McDowell, Mitchell, Polk, Rutherford, and Caldwell counties are forecasted to receive up to five inches with the system. The eastern facing slopes in Ashe, Avery, and Watauga counties are also expected to receive significant rainfall.
Panovich doesn’t see much of a severe weather threat, but there is a possibility of an isolated tornado on Wednesday as a second line of storms rolls through the Charlotte metro.