Wet Week Wrap-up

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Rain Totals
Mike Moss

The combination of moisture from Ida and an intense low pressure center that formed northeast of Ida on a frontal boundary along our coast brought some widespread, persistent rain and gusty winds last week, with impressive rainfall totals across most of the state and peak winds that were high enough to cause some power outages and take down a few trees in spots, with some of these resulting in property damage.

The National Weather Service office in Raleigh has released a couple of handy maps summarizing the rainfall and the wind. I've included those maps here. You can see that in general, much of central NC received between 3 and 5 inches of rain from the storm, while parts of the central and northern coast got as much as 5-9 inches. While there were some very localized flooding issues, the fact that the rains were spread over some time and that much of the region had a significant stretch of below-normal rain leading into the event helped limit flooding troubles. Here in Raleigh, Crabtree Creek is one location that rises rapidly in heavy rain, but as the second image shows, it shot up to about 13 feet or so from a starting level of about 4.5, but has steadily fallen ever since without reaching the flood stage of 18 feet.

In terms of wind, the third image shows that most of us got wind gusts in the 35 to 40 mph range during the height of the nor'easter, with a few spots reaching the mid 40s (46 mph at Rocky Mt-Wilson, for example), while a small part of the norther coast saw some gusts that topped 50 mph.

It will be interesting to see how the National Drought Monitor assessment of moderate drought for a sizable portion of east-central NC changes as a result of these heavy rains, which have greatly increased stream flows and dramatically boosted lake levels as well. The next update of the monitor should be released on Thursday 19 Nov 09.

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