2020: Another Record-Breaking Year of Rainfall in the Foothills and Western Piedmont

The year 2020 is coming to an end and once again it was a year dominated by high rainfall events and for some locations. record-breaking amounts.

Taking a look back at some of the high precipitation events of the year, back in May an anomalous upper low formed along the Mississippi River cutting off from the main jet stream and it slowly drifted through the Tennessee Valley for several days. That dynamic feature resulted in some locations receiving double digit rainfall amounts over a five-day period.

The region was also in the crosshairs of several tropical system during the latter part of the 2020 Atlantic Hurricane Season. In each instance, significant rainfall occurred causing bouts of flooding at times.

And even when big weather features were not around, it seemed that our region saw rainfall occur on a fairly regular basis. The atmosphere during the summer was generally un-capped and at the end of 2020, the southern stream allowed storm systems to pass through on average once a week allowing rainfall amounts to remain at or above normal during the typically dry fall month of November and into most of December.

The map below is a look at rainfall amounts for the year compared to normal. As you can see all locations were at or above normal. The Unifour Region of Catawba, Caldwell, Lincoln and Burke Counties were impacted the most with amounts that were at least 150% of normal.

We had a few locations that in 2020 picked up record rainfall amounts for a calendar year. Hickory Regional Airport, Lenoir (COOP) and Lincolnton (COOP) all broke all-time records for yearly rainfall. Hickory in particular exceeded the 80 inch mark for the year which is an astounding 30+ inches above normal. (Click on image to view)

Marion (COOP), Morganton (COOP) and Shelby (COOP) also received anomalous rainfall for the year but fell shy below each location’s respective records. (Click on image to view)

Our region has not been a stranger to really high rainfall amounts and flooding issues over the past several years. Is this a sign of climate change? One would think so. It will be interesting to see if this trends continues into 2021…

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