Haywood’s soaking summer may break rainfall records

By Shelby Harrell | Jul 30, 2013

Haywood County seems to have been hit with an overflow of rain so far this year.

Though the year is only halfway over, the total rainfall in Haywood County has almost surpassed the annual average of rainfall.

So far, more than 47 inches of rain already has fallen in the area, which is just trailing behind the 50 inches of rain the county averages in a year.

According to data provided by the National Weather Service, Haywood County has received 47.54 inches of rainfall between Jan. 1 and July 27, 2013.

The area received more than 10.5 inches of rainfall so far this month, nearly tripling the expected rainfall for July, which averages about 3.7 inches. However, July rainfall fluctuates widely. Last year, Haywood received about 7 inches of rain in July yet only about 3 inches in 2011.

Lauren Visin with the National Weather Service said so far this year, Haywood County had received about 12 inches of rain in January, 4 inches in February, 5 inches in March, 7 inches in April, 4 inches in May, about 5 inches in June.

“I don’t believe we’ve had a below-average month yet this year,” she said.

Visin said the reason the area was experiencing such extreme rain was due to several dips or "troughs" in the jet stream, which had ushered several storms to the south.

The jet stream is a fast flowing, narrow air current found in the atmosphere.

"That’s what steers all of our weather patterns," Visin said."When we have a trough  dip in the jet stream, that will steer the weather systems further south toward us."

“The setup of the jet stream this year happened to favor a wet pattern," she added. "The jet stream is bringing in more storm systems than usual.”

Waynesville’s rainfall on July 4 topped the charts as one of the three wettest July days ever recorded, garnering about 3 inches total.

In addition, the rainfall this month has dubbed this month as the second wettest July in history.

The wettest July ever recorded dated back to 1896, when rainfall reached about 12 inches, Visin said. She said it still was possible for Haywood County to beat the July 1896 record.

“If there are a couple good thunderstorms over Waynesville or Haywood County, you might actually beat that,” she said. “You’re only about an inch and a half away from that record.”

Visin said the driest year ever recorded in Waynesville dated back to 1941, when the town only received 8.91 inches of rain for the entire year. The driest July ever recorded was in 1998 after receiving only 1.42 inches of rain that month.

Meanwhile, less than 30 miles away, Asheville experienced its wettest July in history. So far, Asheville received 11.74 inches of rain this month, ranking it the wettest in July records, Visin said.

“And we’re not done with July yet,” she said. “There’s a good possibility they will get even more than that.”

The Asheville area has received 49.8 inches of rain so far this year.

Currently, 1973 is recorded as being the number one wettest year in Asheville history, garnering almost 65 inches of rain. However, Visin said Asheville’s rainfall this year could break the record for one of the top 10 wettest years in Asheville.

If rainfall accumulates past 54 inches this year, the year 2013 will become the tenth wettest year in Asheville history, Visin said.

“We’re not quite top 10 yet, but we do have five more months left in a year,” Visin said. “I’d say they have a pretty good chance of breaking the number one wettest year.”

While Visin said she expected the rest of the year to be wet, she said there was really no way to predict the weather patterns in advance.

“It’s pretty hard to predict the next few months,” she said. “The climate estimates a wet period, but it could just as easily go the other way.”

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