Too Much of a Good Thing

It was a story of TOO MUCH of a good thing in certain areas as Tropical Storm Idalia passed through the Carolinas last week. SFN’s Mike Davis gets the details from climatologist Corey Davis.

We needed the rain but maybe not so much in certain areas. What happened?

Yeah, Mike, we talked last week about some of the rainfall totals from the storm. Some places had more than eight inches and that included the wasteful area down in southeastern North Carolina. In the last week we’ve seen pretty high-water levels and flooding through the town of Whiteville, frankly, it looked like scenes that you would have expected from a big storm like Matthew or Florence. But again, just that heavy rainfall concentrated over that area. A caused a pretty big impact. And we’re still seeing along the Waccamaw River near there. Those stream levels are running at near record highs for this day of the year. So obviously, for only a tropical storm and that was a pretty big impact but again, just goes to show it that much rain can do. The better news is that for a lot of the farmers across eastern North and South Carolina, that should be good beneficial rains. Outside of where we had those eight edge totals. I suspect the farmers are probably a little bit happier. They may have had some standing water in the fields for a few days but we have seen a nice rebound in soil moisture conditions where some of those soils had really been drying out looking at places like Goldsboro and Kinston in eastern North Carolina, we’ve seen a nice recovery there. So I think the farmers that were starting to notice some fairly dry conditions in the fields, at least got a little bit of moisture to kind of bump them back up to where they ought to be for this time of the year.

Did that clear all the drought off of the map in North and South Carolina, Corey?

Well, not quite. And of course one thing with Idalia is that there was some good heavy rain in some spots that there was also a pretty tight gradient between places that saw the heavier rains and places that saw almost nothing at all. So looking up across the southern Piedmont in North Carolina, the Upstate in South Carolina, and especially in the northeast corner of North Carolina, those areas saw less than an inch of rain from the storm. In looking at places like Elizabeth City, we really didn’t see much improvement at all. Even things like groundwater conditions. And we’ve talked before about how shallow the groundwater aquifers are there so we would have hoped for more of a recharge but really didn’t see much. So as a result, we’ve still got some spots of moderate drought again, mainly in northeastern North Carolina, and then also down across Anson County and then down into Chester County, South Carolina. Those areas are still looking for a little bit more rain to fully lift themselves out of that drought.

You know that old song? “It Never Rains in California” should have been “It Never Rains in Elizabeth City”, because we’re always talking about how dry it is up there. We’ve got more activity in the Atlantic, right?

That’s right, and we’re within a week of the typical peak of the season and it certainly looks like that out across the Atlantic now. We’ve seen the remnants of those storms like Franklin shift off to the north. And now that’s cleared the way for new storms. We’ve got a Hurricane Lee that’s about halfway across the Atlantic at the moment. Most of the forecasts are curving it to the north before he would get to the Carolinas. But it still looks like it’ll get close enough that it’s worth monitoring because even a small shift off to the west could potentially bring it into far eastern parts of the state. And then behind that there’s another system that’s just come off the coast of Africa looks like within the next couple of days that will become Tropical Storm Margot. That would be the 13th name storm of the season, which puts us right about it that long term average and if you’ll remember Mike, the updated forecast about a month ago from NOAA showed above normal activity. So once we get above 14 named storms, it would be in above normal season. So we expect to see more of that activity continue here in the month of September.

And of course if Lee were to move a little bit to the west, it would bring rains to eastern North Carolina and all places not named Elizabeth City. Let’s talk about the forecast. Any break in the heat coming, for crying out loud?

Yeah, we do have a nice break coming. We’re seeing a little bit of it today. Instead of those high temperatures in the mid to upper 90s. We’re going to be back into the upper 80s. And then especially tomorrow and Sunday, we will see a good bit of relief. There’s a cold front that’s coming in from the west and that’ll knock our temperatures back down into the mid 80s will also bring a little more cloud cover and even better chances of rain as that front sits over us through the weekend. So after that very hot start to September we were at 100 degrees in Raleigh back on Wednesday. Say it will set a new daily record high at 98 degrees on Wednesday as well. So we want to get those 90s and hundreds out of the way and get to some more comfortable, more full light conditions here soon.