Hurricanes seldom make landfall on the East Coast in November, but a Category 1 hurricane in Florida did just that, and what was left of the storm has made it to the Carolinas, bringing heavy precipitation and cold weather.
Hurricane Nicole made landfall near Vero Beach, Florida on November 10th at 3:00 AM, and what remained of the cyclone, or tropical depression, reached North Carolina by the 13th, with the center of the storm passing over the western part of the state.
The National Hurricane Center (NHC) defines a tropical depression as “a tropical cyclone with maximum sustained winds of 38 mph (33 knots) or less.”
The National Weather Service (NWS) issued a Flood Watch in western North Carolina from Asheville to Boone, where the storm was expected to bring the heaviest rainfall. Areas around the mountains and foothills were predicted to experience 4-6 inches of rain while most of the state expected around 3 inches of rainfall, save for the northeast, which was predicted to receive less than an inch.
Before the weekend even arrived, North Carolina residents experienced severe flooding. Cars in the Boone Mall parking lot were trapped in flood waters on Friday, November 11th, and Blowing Rock public works employees cleared blocked storm drains that flooded Church Street, WSOC reported. During the autumn, heavy winds and rain can cause more leaves to fall from trees, which in turn can block storm drains and contribute to flooding.
“We have reports of streams flooding and closing roadways from Polk County north toward Avery County in North Carolina,” the NWS office in Greer, South Carolina, reported on Twitter Friday evening.
NWS meteorologists predicted near freezing temperatures during the week, including lows of 35 degrees early Tuesday and 40 degrees early Wednesday. Low temperatures are expected to drop to 36 degrees early Thursday and 30 degrees early Friday. Lows in the Triangle will be marginally warmer at 35 degrees early Thursday and 36 degrees early Friday.
Watauga County saw the highest amount of precipitation. Over the course of 24 hours, Foscoe reported 4.84 inches of rainfall and 4.39 inches in Blowing Rock on Saturday, according to meteorologist Doug Outlaw of the NWS Greer office.
Following a Winter Weather Advisory issued for several counties in the northwest, multiple schools had to close their doors or make operational changes on Tuesday, November 15th. The threat of freezing rain during the morning commute prompted schools in Watauga and Ashe Counties to switch to remote learning, according to district officials, while schools in Avery County closed for the day.
Several tornado warnings have already been issued and are expected to stay in effect until early Friday evening. Tornados produced by tropical systems like this one often develop quickly and with little warning. If a twister is expected in your area, seek shelter on the lowest floor of a sturdy building in a small, interior room away from any windows. Basements, hallways, and bathrooms will provide the best protection.
Rare seasonal weather such as this tropical system can be dangerous, and it is imperative for residents to take appropriate precautions during times like these.