By Tim Gardner
Six to near-ten inches of rain fell across Avery County from late last Thursday night into Monday evening, resulting in some flooding. However, the problems it caused were only minimal when compared to other nearby regions such as Watauga County, which suffered major flooding issues in some regions.
“We dodged a big bullet from these rains,” said Avery County Manager Phillip Barrier, Jr. “The situation certainly wasn’t as bad as it could have been and there were only a few problems. Most of rivers, streams and creeks in the county reached capacity, but did not exceed their banks. Our fire departments, Emergency Management, Emergency Medical Services (EMS), communications and sheriff’s departments as well as various volunteers did a wonderful job of helping anyone in need during this period of near-continuous and sometimes heavy rain.”
The highest recorded total amount of rainfall in the county was 9.6 inches at Sugar Mountain. Most parts of the county got around 8 inches.
Barrier, Jr. said Avery County emergency personnel responded to “various calls” Friday into Monday evening due to the inclement weather.
He said perhaps Avery’s worst happening from the storm was having to evacuate some people from the Pineola Campground. Several people from there went to a temporary warming shelter set up by the county at the Old Rock Gymnasium in Newland until they could safely return to the campground.
The county manager added that a bridge located behind the county’s trash collection facility in Altamont was washed out.
Most rivers and streams continue to run full, but their waters should recede back to normal later this week, according to meteorologists.
Abundant moisture was abundant over the North Carolina Mountains much of late last week and the past weekend, allowing scattered showers and isolated thunderstorms to continue developing. The rain became heavy at times, saturating the ground and causing flash flooding. The runoff from the heavy rains into creeks and streams caused sudden increases in water levels and flows, even in areas where rainfall was lighter.
As a result, the National Weather Service in Greenville – Spartanburg, SC issued Flash Flood Watches and Flash Flood Warnings for the county that rotated between the two on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
Weather officials define a Flash Flood Watch as conditions being prevalent that flooding could occur. A Flash Flood Warning means that conditions are prevalent that flooding is happening or likely to occur soon.
The on and off rain showers to heavy downpours dropped around at least 6 to 8 inches or more in most areas around Western North Carolina.
Some residents of Spruce Pine in nearby Mitchell County were trapped after floodwaters washed out a private bridge.
Rain from this storm left the area Monday evening. Today (Tuesday) should be dry with a mix of sun and clouds. A slight chance of showers returns to the area on Wednesday and Thursday before the week ends with a sunny day predicted for Friday. High temperatures will be in the upper 60s for most of the week with a chance to top 70 degrees on Tuesday and Friday.