The big weather story so far in this autumn season has been developing drought across a large part of the state of North Carolina. Over the past week wildfires have developed across the state with the worst now focused on the Pilot Mountain State Park area in Surry County.
Drought conditions developed starting back in the late summer but it has really accelerated over the past few months. The latest drought monitor that was updated this past Thursday shows a significant portion of the state now classified in drought conditions.
Looking at the precipitation patterns across the state, yearly rainfall amounts have been close to normal here and western North Carolina. The heaviest rainfall this year was focused along the Blue Ridge while further east the weather pattern was a bit drier.
As you can see areas in the green shading have been just above normal (100-110%) for the calendar year. The yellow shading is the 80-90% range.
For the spring and most of the summer our area dealt with precipitation on a regular basis. That all began to change mid to late September when the weather pattern became a lot more quiet, partly a result of a lackluster end to the Atlantic Hurricane Season.
Precipitation amounts have really diminished in a big way of the past 90 days. As you can see on the maps below, our region along with a large part of North Carolina has been significantly below normal in rainfall.
Even the mountains that at one time was dealing with significantly above average precipitation has really dried out over the past three months.
The lack of precipitation along with fall foliage that is now on the ground has resulted in a high fire danger for a large area.
Monday afternoon a burn ban was issued by the State Forest Service until further notice.
If you look at the water vapor image tonight there is a lot of dry air in the lower levels of the atmosphere, nationwide. The winds at the jetstream level are coming in from Northwest and will shift around to Westerly as we go through this week…
With zonal flow in place we will remain on the dry side for the next several days. The animation below indicates relative humidity levels across the Southeast over the next 10 days. The darker brown colors indicate dryness while the blues and purples indicate moist air.
With the lack of moisture means we will have a lack of big rain producing systems over the next week or more. Some parts of our coverage area haven’t seen any rainfall in 10 days and we could easily add another 7 to 10 days to the current streak.
So at this time if you have outdoor plans please be extremely careful as it won’t take a whole lot for fires to start and build. The current burn ban includes campfires and fire pits so have that in mind if you have weekend plans across our region. Local law enforcement, Park Rangers, etc…will be out and about enforcing the Burn Ban.