Sunshine broke through the clouds at midday in Charlotte, but meteorologists say the region will not get any significant break from the repeated rounds of heavy showers and thunderstorms.
In fact, forecasters say, any sunshine will only serve to roil the atmosphere even more. Downpours could be back in the Charlotte area by late afternoon or evening.
The pattern, which one meteorologist called “an atmospheric fire hose,” is expected to continue into the July 4 holiday.
Flash flood or flood watches cover nearly all of the Carolinas and extend into Wednesday evening. With tens of thousands of people planning to attend Independence Day fireworks displays and festivals, the outlook remains very wet.
“It really looks like the pattern will hold into Thursday,” said Lauren Visin, of the National Weather Service’s office in Greer, S.C.
The good news is that beach areas likely will emerge from the steady rain by Thursday, as the pattern gradually shifts westward. In fact, rainfall could become more sporadic by Thursday evening in the immediate Charlotte area.
In the meantime, however, unsettled weather is in control. The Charlotte region is under such a watch until 8 p.m. Wednesday, but the Weather Service’s Bryan McAvoy said, “It’s almost certain that the watch will be extended, owing to the heavy rain threat Wednesday night and Thursday.”
Brad Panovich, chief meteorologist at WCNC-TV, the Observer’s news partner, said, “In some ways, the set-up today and tomorrow is even worse than it was over the weekend.”
More than 5 inches of rain caused severe flooding Friday night in Lincoln, northern Mecklenburg and Cabarrus counties, and another round of flooding took place Sunday evening in Anson, Stanly and Richmond counties.
Heavy rain fell Tuesday morning in parts of Anson and Stanly counties, to the east of Charlotte; and in Cleveland, Rutherford, Burke and Caldwell counties to the northwest. But the heaviest storms battered a north-south corridor in the eastern half of the Carolinas, stretching from Raleigh-Durham down to Charleston. Early Tuesday afternoon, flood warnings and even a tornado warning were in effect near Raleigh.
Accu-Weather meteorologist Alex Sosnowski, who used the “fire hose” description for the frequent storms, said Raleigh has received nearly 300 percent of its average rainfall since June 1.
Meteorologists say they expect that area of heavy rain and storms to move westward toward Charlotte as the day progresses.
The heavy rain already has caused more than a dozen roads in the Charlotte region to be closed. The list is growing. Authorities in Caldwell County reported a landslide early Tuesday on Buffalo Cove Road, in the northeast part of the county.
“A number of factors are contributing to all of this,” Visin said.
She said high pressure near Bermuda, an upper-level low pressure system over western Tennessee, and an old stationary front draped across the Carolinas are combining to produce the rainy weather.
“The heavy rain could come at any time of day or night,” Visin said. “This is not like the typical summer pattern of diurnal (afternoon and evening) storms.”
The clouds will limit high temperatures Tuesday to the upper 70s, but humidity levels are very high. Daytime readings will only reach the low 80s Wednesday and again on July 4.
Sponsors of the various outdoor events planned for the holiday say they are watching conditions carefully.
“Our fire chief provides us with updates constantly,” said Ann Gibson, a spokeswoman for the City of Kannapolis, which is scheduled to host a Charlotte Symphony pops concert and fireworks display Tuesday night. “Like everyone else, we’ll wait and see.”
Visin said the pattern gradually will shift to the west as the week goes on. That means the highest threat of flooding likely will move to the mountains by Thursday night and Friday. Some sunshine, along with warmer temperatures, should return then.
“By the weekend and early next week, we’ll see a return to more typical weather,” Visin said.
In fact, high temperatures are predicted to reach the low 90s Monday and Tuesday.
Lyttle: 704-358-6107 Twitter: @slyttle
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