Grandfather Mountain Experiences One of Wettest Years On Record

Published Friday, January 11, 2019 at 11:43 am

In 2018, Grandfather Mountain experienced a temperature range of 83.8 degrees. The highest temperature recorded at the Mile High Swinging Bridge was 77.2 on May 13, 2018, and the lowest temperature was -6.64 on Jan. 19, 2018. Photo by Skip Sickler | Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation

By Frank Ruggiero

2018 made a splash on Grandfather Mountain.

As per the recording site at Grandfather’s Nature Museum, where the park’s naturalists gather daily records, some 123.62 inches of precipitation fell on the mountain last year.

“That’s 10 feet of water!” said Amy Renfranz, director of education for the Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation, the nonprofit organization that owns and operates the Linville, N.C., nature park. “Though we had several big days of rain and snow, most of it fell in small amounts throughout the year.”

The largest precipitation events took place on May 19, 2018, with 6.41 inches of rain and Sept. 17, 2018, with 5.84 inches of rain.

“This record year nearly doubles our annual average of 63.13 inches,” Renfranz said. “In comparison, Seattle only received 35.73 inches of precipitation in 2018 — a markedly dry year for the Western states. New York City received 46.78.”

In 2017, Grandfather Mountain recorded only 73.73 inches of rain. The mountain’s rainiest day in history remains Sept. 8, 2004, on which 11.3 inches were measured.

As recorded by the weather station at the Mile High Swinging Bridge, the mountain’s wettest year was 1979 with 89.25 inches of rain. The same station recorded 77.36 inches of rain in 2018 (making it the fifth wettest on record), but, due to high winds and closures from inclement weather, rain data collected at the bridge often amounts to lower totals than other collection areas on the mountain — in this case, significantly lower.

The Nature Museum measurements are made in accordance with the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network, commonly known as CoCoRaHS. Grandfather Mountain’s naturalists have been recording and reporting data to CoCoRaHS since 2011, and 2018 marks the wettest year on record, according to that particular data.

Wind

Grandfather Mountain recorded two gusts above 100 mph in 2018. On March 2, 2018, a gust of 101.9 mph was charted by an automated weather station at the Mile High Swinging Bridge, followed by a 101.7-mph gust on Oct. 20, 2018.

The record wind speed at that location is 120.7 mph, set in December 2012.

In addition, winds gusted higher than 60 mph at least 64 days in 2018.

Temperatures

A place known for its temperature swings, Grandfather Mountain experienced a temperature range of 83.8 degrees in 2018.

The highest temperature recorded at the Mile High Swinging Bridge was 77.2 on May 13, 2018, and the lowest temperature was -6.64 on Jan. 19, 2018. As such, the mountain did not beat its record high of 83.2 degrees from July 1, 2012, or its record low of -32 degrees from Jan. 21, 1985.

Weather Reporting

The Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation records and reports data in three different ways:

  • The park maintains an automated weather station at the top of the Mile High Swinging Bridge. The N.C. State Climate Office assists the foundation in calibrating the machines and ensuring overall accuracy of data.
  • Grandfather Mountain has been an active member of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Cooperative Observer Program since 1955 by reporting daily temperature, precipitation and weather events from a location near the Mile High Swinging Bridge.
  • Park naturalists also record and report daily precipitation totals from the Nature Museum and Entrance Gate to the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network (CoCoRaHS).

With rare exceptions, the temperature will be 10 to 20 degrees cooler at Grandfather Mountain than in the flatlands below. The average rate is 2.2 degrees per 1,000 feet, meaning that for each thousand feet gained, the air is 2.2. degrees cooler.

For more information on Grandfather Mountain’s weather or to access current conditions, visit www.grandfather.com.

The not-for-profit Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation strives to inspire conservation of the natural world by helping guests explore, understand and value the wonders of Grandfather Mountain. For more information, call (800) 468-7325, or visit www.grandfather.com to plan a trip.

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