By Greg Hince
Aug. 2, 2012. The automatic weather station at the top of Grandfather Mountain recorded a new record high temperature of 83.2 degrees July 1. The previous record captured by the equipment, located on the Mile High Swinging Bridge, was 82.7 degrees, which was set the day before.
The station recorded the average high temperature for the month at 71.7 degrees and the average low temperature at 59.3 degrees. The averages were higher than the data provided from the State Climate Office at Mt. Mitchell State Park. The average high temperature at Mt. Mitchell was 67.7 degrees and the average low temperature was 56.7 degrees.
The station also records rainfall averages, which were higher than normal in the past month. The rainfall total of 6.21 inches was 0.55 inches, or nine percent, above the 56-year average of 5.66 inches for the month of July. Rainfall for the year-to-date has measured 36.21 inches, which is 4.79 inches, or 15 percent, above the norm for this time of year. Rain fell 13 days during the month of July.
Grandfather Mountain measures precipitation at multiple locations. An automatic weighing precipitation gauge on the corner of the Top Shop parking lot recorded 5.89 inches of liquid precipitation. Entrance Gate employees recorded 7.25 inches of rain, and the naturalist staff recorded 7.35 inches at the weather equipment near the Fudge Shop.
In addition, the highest three-second wind gust during the month was recorded July 24 at 60.35 mph.
The US Weather Service Reporting Station at the Swinging Bridge Visitor Center has been providing daily weather reports since August 1955.
Trained employees call the National Weather Service regional office in Asheville to report the minimum and maximum temperatures, rainfall, snowfall, wind direction and velocity on a daily basis. A monthly record of the information is filed with the Department of Commerce.
There are two publicly accessible weather instruments located at the mountain. A wind gauge and digital thermometer are located across from the main entry to the Visitor Center and a computerized weather readout is incorporated into the weather exhibit in the Nature Museum.
With rare exceptions, the temperature is usually 10 to 20 degrees cooler at Grandfather Mountain than in the flatlands below. The average rate of cooling is 2.2 degrees per 1,000 feet, meaning that for each thousand feet gained, the air is 2.2 degrees cooler.
Grandfather Mountain, a non-profit state park, sits at 5,946 feet and is the highest peak on the eastern escarpment of the Blue Ridge Mountains. It is located at the meeting point of Avery, Caldwell and Watauga Counties.
For more information on Grandfather Mountain’s weather data or to access current conditions please visit www.grandfather.com.