By Niki Morock, Meteorologist
Rain is in the forecast this week! Here in Wake County, a little rain is welcome. Our yards have dried out since the last measurable rainfall, but we are by no means in a drought thanks to Hurricane Matthew.
To our west, however, the story is much different. North Carolina's southern mountains are in a state of exceptional to extreme drought as shown in the dark red areas on the U. S. Drought Monitor map. The lack of moisture in that area has been part of the cause of the numerous wild fires there in the last few weeks. The region desperately needs rain to help with the wildfires, but are they about to get too much of what they need in a short amount of time?
Heavy rain after a prolonged dry spell can be problematic. During a drought, the ground can become hard like concrete. When a good, hard rain finally comes, initially it flows downhill instead of sinking into the ground, and in the mountains that effect can cause landslides and debris flows. Our mountains have an additional potential for disaster because where the wildfires have burned, they have left scars on the land. Heavy rain over those scarred areas could cause some flash flooding.
You can see from the Weather Prediction Center's rainfall forecast map below for the next seven days that over six inches of rain are possible in our southern Appalachians. Most of that precipitation is expected to occur over the next three days and be quite heavy at times. If the rain begins with a downpour, they will probably face the hazards described above, but if the rain starts slowly and has time to soften the earth first, the likelihood of landslides and flash flooding will be much less.
Here in Wake County between tonight and Wednesday night, we can expect up to an inch of precipitation, possibly a little more if we get a thunderstorm with heavy rain on Wednesday. And what about that old wives' tale about snow within seven days after hearing thunder in the winter? Don't worry about it. Technically, it's still meteorological fall until Thursday.