By Paul T. Choate
Jan. 30, 2013. It has been raining all day in the High Country. But if you have been paying attention to the radar then you realize that the severe bands of this massive storm system that stretches from Quebec to the Gulf of Mexico are only just now hitting us.
So far today, according to Ray’s Weather Center, 1.24 inches of rain have already fallen in Boone and 1.31 inches has fallen in Banner Elk as of 3:50 p.m.
As of 3:53 p.m., according to Watauga County Road Conditions and Weather Updates, the first reports started coming in regarding the Boone Mall parking lot flooding — as it often does during heavy rain — and as of 4:05 p.m. an unattended car was said to be stuck in the parking lot due to high waters.
The area remains under numerous watches and warnings as of 4:10 p.m.
“Batten down the hatches; it will be a significant hit,” warns Ray’s Weather.
In Watauga County, a high wind warning is in effect until 4 p.m. on Thursday with the National Weather Service (NWS) saying gusts could reach as high as 60 mph. Watauga County is also under severe thunderstorm watch until 10 p.m. tonight and a flash flood watch until midnight.
In Avery County, a tornado watch remains in effect until 8 p.m. Many counties in Georgia and the Carolinas are included in the tornado watch. Avery County is also under a high wind warning until midnight and a winter weather advisory until 10 a.m. Thursday.
“Heavy rain will fall across the Northern North Carolina mountains this afternoon and evening. Runoff will likely continue into the early morning hours Thursday. Moist and cold winds will result in light snow showers across the west facing slopes after midnight,” reads the NWS winter weather advisory. “As temperatures fall into the lower to mid-20s early Thursday morning … widespread black ice will develop under up to two inches of snow.”
According to current radar projections on Intellicast, the worst of the storm will impact the High Country between 6 and 7 p.m. this evening.
Temperatures will also fall dramatically overnight tonight. By 8 p.m. temperatures may still be in the 50s, but will plummet to below freezing by around 5 a.m. on Thursday. It will only get colder from there too, with Ray’s Weather forecasting a high of only 30 degrees on Thursday and only 20 degrees on Friday.
For those who must be out on the roads this evening, use extra caution when driving in heavy rain and in standing water on road surfaces.
To stay up to date with weather here in the area, visit raysweather.com.
Photos by Ken Ketchie