By Nathan Ham
The High Country has been hit by two tropical systems in less than a month as heavy rains from Tropical Storm Michael are pounding the area Thursday morning.
Michael is currently centered near Columbia, South Carolina, but has been dumping large amounts of rain across all of North Carolina.
The effects of the rain were felt in Boone as early as Wednesday afternoon with the front parking lot of the Boone Mall being closed off around lunchtime, as well as other normal flood-prone areas like Deerfield Road at the Moose Lodge and on Bamboo Road near the airport. Those roads are still closed. Hunting Hills Lane off of State Farm Road is another road currently closed due to flooding.
Driving conditions have gotten worse overnight and into Thursday morning. Parts of Blowing Rock Road, Casey Lane, New River Hills, Poplar Grove connector, Boone Docks Road, Clement Street and locations along the Greenway Trail are experiencing flooding issues according to the Boone Police Department. BPD is also in the process of notifying residents on Leola Street, College Place Apartments and Bavarian Village Apartments to be ready in case they need to evacuate.
According to the National Weather Service, parts of Boone have already seen over five inches of rain in the last 24 hours. Linville and areas near Grandfather Mountain have had over six inches of rain during the same timespan.
An emergency shelter will be open at the Alliance Bible Fellowship at noon, according to Watauga County Emergency Management. The shelter is located at 1035 N.C. Highway 105 Bypass in Boone. Pets are allowed as long as they are in crates.
Watauga County Schools announces that they are dismissing early. K-8 schools will dismiss at 10:30 a.m. and the high will dismiss at 11 a.m. Buses will run limited routes A according to WCS. Ashe County Schools are dismissing early as well with elementary schools dismissing at 10:30, the middle school at 11 and the high school at 11:30. As of 10:30 a.m., Avery County Schools are not dismissing early.
Rain is expected to continue, heavy at times, until mid-afternoon when the rain will begin to taper off to some light showers according to the latest update from Ray’s Weather Center. A flash flood watch will remain in effect until 8 p.m. Thursday night and a high wind warning is in effect until 11 a.m. on Friday.
Fall weather arrives this weekend with highs in the upper 50s and lows dipping into the lower 40s before temperatures warm up a bit into the lower 60s heading into next week. Most importantly, it appears that dry weather will be in the forecast for the next few days.