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Tropical Depression Florence Finally Leaves the High Country; Rainfall Totals Vary Across the Mountains

A low water bridge on Hartzog Ford Road crossing the New River near West Jefferson. (Photos by Nathan Ham)

By Nathan Ham

Things could have certainly been much worse in the High Country.

Some precipitation forecasts had parts of the mountain counties receiving upwards of 10-15 inches of rain. Thankfully for a lot of low-lying areas and people living near rivers and streams, rainfall measurements fell well short of that overall.

However, flooding was still a problem, particularly in Ashe County where every low water bridge in the county was still underwater Monday morning, that according to Ashe County Emergency Management.

The NCDOT will be in charge of reopening those bridges when possible.

“We will inspect them for damage and reopen as soon as we can after the water recedes,” said Charles C. Reinhardt, the Division 11 Maintenance Engineer.

Late Sunday night, Ashe County Emergency Management issued a statement about a potential dam breach at the Headwaters Dam in the Creston community. Residents on Three Top Road were urged to evacuate. Fortunately, the rain slacked off enough to ease the pressure on the man-made dam. Emergency management announced that the dam was fine early Monday morning. 

In Watauga County, Bamboo Road and Deerfield Road had their usual flooding problems, however outside of that, no real issues were reported.

Power outages were felt across numerous areas. Blue Ridge Energy reported 4,773 members from 30 damaged locations in Watauga County were without power at some point, including locations in Zionville, Blowing Rock and Deep Gap. In Ashe County, 942 residents in Beaver Creek, Warrensville, Creston, Shatley Springs and Obids lost power. 1,398 members in Caldwell County from Lenoir, Hudson, Globe and Upton lost power and 1,165 members in Alleghany in Glade Valley, Sparta, Chestnut Grove and along Highway 18 were without power.

According to information provided by Ray’s Weather Center, rainfall totals varied from 4.4 inches in Boone to 7.52 inches in Sparta. The Aho area received 6.8 inches, which was the most in Watauga County. West Jefferson had 5.3 inches, the highest total in Ashe County. Sugar Mountain had 5.17 inches and Linville received 4.98 inches of rain.

Precipitation maps from the National Weather Service show most all of Ashe and Watauga had at least four inches of rain.

Looking ahead at the weather for this week, some showers will still linger around for the rest of Monday and into Tuesday morning as Tropical Depression Florence heads through Kentucky and into Ohio and Pennsylvania. Wednesday through Friday looks like some beautiful weather in the High Country with sunny conditions and highs in the upper 70s. Some isolated afternoon showers are in the forecast for Saturday and Sunday.

Several ditch lines like this one in West Jefferson looked like flowing creeks on Monday morning.
Highway 88 between West Jefferson and Warrensville was down to one lane this morning as crews cleared a tree from the road.
Several roads near the New River in Ashe County were closed overnight and this morning as river waters continued to rise and cover some roadways.
The New River in Lansing.

High water from the New River slams into these bridge posts at Walt Sheets Bridge near Jefferson.
Flooding of the New River in Ashe County in the north and south fork areas is still subsiding as line crews wait to reach the last of the damage for final power restoration on Monday. (Photo courtesy of Blue Ridge Energy