Looks like no way for Fay rain in western N.C.

Posted August 19, 2008
Updated August 20, 2008

— It is looking like Tropical Storm Fay might was only teasing about bringing much-needed drought relief to western parts of North Carolina.

A high-pressure system settling in over the eastern United States will force Fay to make a turn at the Florida-Georgia border after it heads northeast, according to the National Weather Service.

Fay could stall over Georgia and will likely steer away from central North Carolina. The storm had been expected to reach the mountains by Saturday.

At 11 p.m. Tuesday, the center of the storm was about 30 miles south-southwest of Melbourne and forecasters expected it to head north-northeast at about 5 mph overnight.

Forecasters predict Fay will move over water near the east coast of north Florida on Wednesday. The storm is expected to strengthen as it moves over the Atlantic Ocean.

Hopes had been high that Fay would bring relief for drought-ravaged sections of North Carolina and South Carolina.

Chances are dwindling that the storm will provide much rain this week, although it could turn back toward the state if the high-pressure system weakens, forecasters said.

WRAL Chief Meteorologist Greg Fishel said Tuesday that Fay is the strongest it has ever been as it moves across Florida.

While no computer models have the storm affecting North Carolina, some models show it reentering the Atlantic Ocean. Fishel said the storm could “explode” over warm waters and cause major problems for Florida and Georgia.

Northern Florida and southern Georgia could potentially receive up to 20 inches of rain, Fishel said.

The National Hurricane Center gave North Carolina a 5 percent to 10 percent chance of getting tropical-storm force winds in the next five days.

Officials said that so far this year, 20.16 inches of rain have fallen at Asheville Regional Airport. The normal amount is 30.57 inches.

State water-planning official Linwood Peele said drought conditions in western North Carolina came earlier than last year, and 2007 saw a record drought. The state's drought monitor lists 18 western counties in the most severe category, exceptional drought.

"Western North Carolina is much worse off," Peele said. "Stream flows and groundwater are much lower this year than last. This year, it's starting much earlier."

Tropical storms are good drought-busters, said Doug Miller, an associate professor of atmospheric sciences at the University of North Carolina at Asheville.

"We would almost have to have a repeat of the fall of 2004 to have a hope to get back to normal, and that was an exceedingly rare event," Miller said. That year, remnants of two hurricanes caused extensive flooding in western North Carolina.

"If Fay stays away, we could have rain-free conditions here for the next week," Fishel said. He added that in an "ironic" move, Fay could bring remnant rainfall to the state in six to seven days.

Fay's conditions caused Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama to cancel an unannounced trip through eastern North Carolina Tuesday morning. Obama had planned to fly from Orlando, Fla., to Kinston, N.C., and make several stops on his way to speak in Raleigh Tuesday night.


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  • bs101fly Aug 19, 2008

    are you kidding me, I bought rain insurance!

  • Skywatch_NC Aug 19, 2008

    Wish that HIGH would weaken and/or move out over the Atlantic and allow that tropical system to move north and up the East Coast.

  • angora2 Aug 19, 2008

    "And Al Gore says he can predict global warming."

    Question your sources on this one, babe.

  • IfByWhiskey-a-go-go Aug 19, 2008

    This storm has the potential to be real flood maker in georgia. Who knows, it might stall over the ocean, but move eventually. Screw your wig down tight! I go easy on the forcasters, no one would do any better.

  • freddie cadetti 72 Aug 19, 2008

    Constructive criticism....ask Kim Deener (weekend weather person)not to use "I" and "My" when she is describing the forecast. She says "My forecast" so and so...etc. Sounds a little self promoting.

    That said, let me say there is no weather team even close to the team at WRAL. Any one of them could be the lead person at any other station, and just as in the sports or anchor positions, WRAL has a unique way of retaining their people. That doesn't happen by mistake, and the leadership at the top is to be well congratulated. Keep up the great work.

  • TheWB Aug 19, 2008

    "Wow, just a day or so ago they were saying we would get rain out of this system for sure...Things have sure changed...."

    And Al Gore says he can predict global warming. LOL

  • Space Mountain Aug 19, 2008

    it might rain. It might not. It might snow. It might not.

    This way they are never wrong.

  • colliedave Aug 19, 2008

    The problem is the continual "missed" forecasts will cause complancy when a predicted major storm is on target and people just shrug it off and do not take the needed precautions.

  • baileysmom3 Aug 19, 2008

    its north carolina weather for you, inpredictable

  • North Wake Dad Aug 19, 2008

    "Extreme weather includes weather phenomena that are at the extremes of the historical distribution, especially severe or unseasonal weather." From Wikipedia (sources cited there)

    If you'll Google:

    "extreme weather" CNN

    with the quotations included, you'll find tons of transcripts from CNN where ordinary rotten weather is described as "extreme weather." Seems pretty clear to me that the phrase is overused and misused. As I mentioned before, I find it irritating.