Rain Is Early Gift for Triangle

Posted December 16, 2007 6:36 a.m. EST
Updated December 22, 2007 9:23 a.m. EST

— Mother Nature delivered an early Christmas gift to the drought-parched Triangle: not snow but rain – the region's first significant rainfall since late October.

After the rain, temperatures will dip into the 20s and 30s overnight Sunday as harsh winds continue to sweep through the Triangle. Breezy conditions will continue Monday, but should significantly quiet down on Tuesday, according to WRAL Meteorologist Kim Deaner.

The area saw temperatures in the mid to high 40s Sunday, which was cooler than the usual 53 degrees for this time of year.

Rain fell for nine hours across central and eastern North Carolina from early Saturday evening and into the early hours of Sunday morning. The heaviest rains came between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m.

"It's been a very helpful rainfall across the area, fairly widespread, long-lasting, soaking in, with some locally heavy showers," WRAL Meteorologist Mike Moss said.

"Most areas did get decent rainfall," between 0.75 and 1.5 inches, Moss said, while there were "a couple lucky spots with up to 2 inches."

By 6:30 a.m., a total of 1.2 inches had accumulated at Raleigh-Durham International Airport. Fayetteville reported a total of 1.6 inches, while Rocky Mount topped out at 1.8 inches.

Beaufort and Manteo lead the state in terms of local rainfall totals, with 4.3 and 3.4 inches, respectively.

The National Weather Service issued a wind advisory for central and western North Carolina from 9 a.m. Sunday until 4 a.m. Monday. Sustained winds should reach 35 mph, sometimes gusting up to 55 mph. The strongest winds were predicted for 2 p.m. to 10 p.m.

NWS recommended securing light-weight outdoor objects, including holiday decorations, trash cans and lawn furniture.

"If you have an inflatable snowman or something like that, be sure you take care of it before the winds get too strong," Moss said.

The rain brought some relief to North Carolina, where 78 of 100 counties were listed in exceptional drought conditions on Wednesday by the state Drought Management Advisory Council.

On Saturday morning, Raleigh had a rainfall deficit of 9.88 inches for the year. As of midnight Saturday, that had dropped to 9.01 inches.

The capital city had not seen a significant rainfall since Oct. 26, when 2.19 inches fell.