Flooding, Mudslides Prevalent in Avery County

Published Saturday, May 19, 2018 at 9:13 pm

By Tim Gardner

The National Weather Service reports there has been serious flooding in Avery County after 4 to 6 inches of rain fell Friday evening and overnight into Saturday, with up to two more inches projected to fall Saturday night.

There also have been various reports of mudslides in the county. Highway 105 near the Avery-Watauga County line was closed Friday night because of a mudslide, according to Watauga County 911. Some bridges or low-water crossings in the area have been washed away and the heavy rains tore large chucks out of some roadways.

Avery County Emergency personnel responded to numerous calls Friday night into Saturday morning due to the inclement weather.

Flooding and mudslides also happened Friday night in Northwest Caldwell County, which borders Avery County. And Watauga County received extensive flooding in various parts of the county, especially in Boone, Thursday into Thursday night.

A spokesperson from the Caldwell County sheriff’s office says rain has forced the closure of roads in the Colletsville area.

The National Weather Service warns that more mudslides may develop in the area—especially in those of steep terrain.

Abundant subtropical moisture will remain over the area allowing scattered showers and isolated thunderstorms to continue developing across the region through tonight, creating the potential for more flash flooding. Recent heavy rains have saturated the ground and any additional rain will continue the flash flood risk. Small streams and creeks may be overwhelmed and could rise out of their banks, flooding nearby lowlands.

Runoff from heavy rain into creeks and streams will cause sudden increases in water levels and flows, even in areas where rainfall has been light or nonexistent.

As a result, the National Weather Service in Greenville – Spartanburg, SC issued a Flash Flood Warning for Southeastern Avery County and Northwestern Caldwell County until 8:45 p.m. Saturday. Additionally, all of Avery County and Upper Caldwell County and the Caldwell Mountains are under a Flash Flood Watch until midnight Saturday. At 3:48 PM Eastern Standard Time (EST), Doppler radar indicated thunderstorms producing heavy rain across the warned area.

Drainages of the Johns River and especially Wilson Creek are expected to flood. Other locations likely to experience flooding include: Grandfather Mountain State Park, the Blue Ridge Parkway – Linville Falls to Grandfather Mountain, Pineola, Edgemont, Globe, Upton, Collettsville and the Blowing Rock section of Caldwell County.

According to meteorologists, the flooded streams and rivers may take a few days to recede as more rain is expected next week.

Emergency Management officials have indicated that most flood deaths occur in vehicles and it is strongly discouraged for anyone to drive a vehicle across water-covered roadways, bridges, or low-level crossings. Low-water crossings can be submerged by flood waters quickly and without warning. Only a few inches of rapidly flowing water can carry away a vehicle.

In hilly and mountainous terrain, there are hundreds of low-water crossings which can be dangerous in heavy rain. Hikers, campers and other individuals outdoors should immediately seek high ground during heavy rains and flooding and avoid all streams.


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