Heavy Rain Hits Parts Of North Carolina

Thursday, October 25th 2007, 7:56 am
By: News On 6

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) _ Welcome rain fell Wednesday across drought-stricken North Carolina, but forecasters say it won't be enough to alleviate dry conditions even though some areas doubled the amount of rain they've seen all month.

Storms are expected to leave western North Carolina on Friday, leaving behind about 2 inches of rain.

Although the rain helped replenish ground water and increase stream flow, the region is about 10 inches below its average annual rainfall, said Scott Krentz, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

``It needs about 15 to 20 inches within two weeks, and that's pretty much unheard of,'' Krentz said. ``We need a couple tropical-type systems to move inland.''

Such storms _ which can bring a foot of rain or more _ have saved the region in the past, Krentz said. ``But we've got a dry, warm winter expected, so we're not expecting much relief over the winter.''

In central North Carolina, rain pounded Raleigh and some of its suburbs in the morning.

``We've probably doubled the monthly total, in about an hour and a half,'' said Barrett Smith, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service's office in Raleigh.

``Up until today, we only had three-tenths of an inch (in October),'' Smith said. ``This is definitely the most we've had in quite a while, and we're probably going to get some more before it's all over.''

However, the region is still between 10 and 15 inches below where its rainfall level should be this time of year, according to the region's annual average rainfall, Smith said.

Totals compiled by the National Weather Service for the 24 hours ended at 8 p.m. Wednesday showed Rocky Mount-Wilson getting the most rain, at 1.32 inches, followed by Hickory, 1.21 inches; Roanoke Rapids, .91 inches, and Raleigh, .80 inches.

And rain continued to fall, said Brandon Dunstan, a meteorologist at the weather service in Raleigh.

``We should have some pretty good chances for ran through Friday night before a cold front sweeps through the area Saturday morning and clears us out,'' he said.

Woody Yonts, chairman of the state's Drought Management Advisory Council, said the first affect of any rainfall would be to help elimimate forest fire danger.

``We're just glad that we got the rain,'' Yonts said. ``Every little bit helps.''

The heavy rain was partially to blame for a wreck Wednesday in Raleigh that killed one person, authorities said.

But the car in which the driver was killed also had tires without much tread, said state Highway Patrol Trooper J.W. Collins. The car went out of control, crossed the center line and struck a minivan, he said. The minivan driver was not injured, and the five passengers received non-life-threatening injuries, Collins said.

Warnings of severe thunderstorms went into effect near the Virginia border in Rockingham and Caswell counties, according to the National Weather Service's office in Blacksburg, Va., which oversees the area.

North Carolina's western counties picked up widespread rain but no major storms. The coastal areas saw more isolated rain.

The wet weather was pushed in during a surge of warm, moist air from the eastern Gulf of Mexico, according to the National Weather Service. Forecasters expect the air to hit a cold front moving south by Thursday, which will keep the wet weather in the area.

Flooding wasn't expected because the drought has dried up rivers or significantly depleted their flow.