What's with this wet and wacky weather?

Did you know? Sometimes you can't see the rainforest for the trees
Jul 19, 2012
Photo by: File photo YOU CAN SEE FOR MILES — On a clear day, you can see 100 miles or more from Smoky Mountain National Park's scenic Clingmans Dome.

Most of you know that I work at a golf course, and there is the long-standing joke that “It never rains on the golf course.”

I wish that were true, because rain wreaks havoc with the game of golf, and eventually leads to the three most painful words a golfer ever hears: Cart Path Only.

If I had a dime for every frown, moan, groan or indignant stare when 'ere I uttered those words — well, I wouldn’t need to work on a golf course.

But lately, when it rains, it really pours, and for example, Maggie Valley Club has been hit with more than 11 inches of "the wet stuff" in the past week — so much rain that when I now use those three painful words, golfers understand.

What they don’t understand is that this part of Western North Carolina is actually classified as a rainforest, albeit a "temperate" one.

Did you know? North America contains more temperate rainforests than any other continent, and there are several small pockets of rainforest right here in the southern Appalachian Mountains — in Western North Carolina, northern Georgia and eastern Tennessee.

Sound familiar? Well, these temperate rainforests include areas of the Pisgah, Nantahala and Chattahoochee national forests, and also can be found in the higher elevations of the Great Smoky Mountains.

Clingmans Dome, for example, receives more than 2,000 milliliters of precipitation per year — nearly 80 inches. That explains why my buddy, Stan Naplen, spends so much of his time "rangering" inside the gift shop at Clingmans Dome.

Did you know? In order to be classified a temperate rainforest in North America, an area needs to receive more than 1,400 milliliters of precipitation annually (55 inches); have a mean annual temperature between 39 and 54 degrees Fahrenheit; a closed canopy of trees that excludes at least 70 percent of the sky, forestation composed mainly of tree species that do not require fire for regeneration, but are able to regenerate under the canopy and in natural openings; and the presence of fog.

Now that I know the definition of a temperate rainforest, I can stand on my deck and see (for the first time) the rainforest for the trees.

And to my brother, Rob, who just relocated to Waynesville, and in his frustration with the weather (rain), recently left a phone message — “Hey, you didn’t tell me we lived in a rainforest!”

Well, brother dear, now you know.

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