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Unusual July is just fine for many in Charlotte area

UMBRELLA_RAIN
TODD SUMLIN - tsumlin@charlotteobserver.com
A few flood-producing downpours hit Charlotte last month – like this July 9 downpour that caught Belinda Bethea – but for the most part it was a mild month.

We might have to forget those traditional ideas of July in the Carolinas.

For the second straight year, the month that is known for searing heat and stifling humidity served up a very different menu.

Last year, it was torrential rainfall that washed away roads and bridges across the Piedmont and Foothills. This year, there were three episodes of cooler-than-average weather, along with the earliest Carolinas hurricane in history and a few flood-producing downpours.

While July’s weather made plenty of news this year, that wasn’t a problem for most people.

“It was a very good month,” said Michael Chambers, of Springs Farm in Fort Mill, S.C. “It was just about right for our peach crop.”

And at Charlotte National Golf Club in Indian Trail, Robbie Isenhour had a similar opinion. “There were a couple of rain days, but it was pretty good,” he said.

Thunderstorms on July 15 flooded roads and some homes and businesses in Matthews, Mint Hill and western Union County, and there was additional flooding in the Charlotte area on July 21. Some areas in eastern Mecklenburg County had nearly 8 inches of rain for the month. The July 15 storm sent Goose Creek in Union County to its highest level since the remnants of Hurricane Jeanne hit the area in 2004.

Yet only a little more than 3 inches fell in July at Charlotte Douglas International Airport, and the city officially will go into the National Weather Service books as having below-average rainfall for the month.

The month probably will be best remembered for its outbreaks of cool weather. A number of warm days around the middle of the month left the overall temperature only 1 degree below average in July at Charlotte’s airport, but there were plenty of unusually mild days.

Chilly air funneled into the Carolinas on the back side of Hurricane Arthur, and July 5 morning lows were 44 degrees at Beech Mountain and 58 degrees in Concord – far from the muggy mornings we’re accustomed to having in July.

Another cool spell hit July 19-21, producing the fifth-coolest readings for those three dates in Charlotte weather history. Charlotte’s high of 74 degrees on July 19 was the second-coolest ever for that date.

The third cool snap hit this week. Mount Mitchell recorded a 41-degree temperature Wednesday morning, and it fell to 55 degrees at Forest City in Rutherford County and 56 in Statesville. Charlotte’s low was 62 degrees.

“And now it looks as if we’ll be going into a very wet period for the next several days, with the clouds and precipitation keeping temperatures cooler than average,” said Neil Dixon, of the National Weather Service office in Greer, S.C.

Chambers said July 2014 was a big improvement over last year. “We had too much rain last July, and it affected our crops,” he said. Isenhour agreed. “Too much last year,” he said.

The most historic event, however, happened at the coast. Hurricane Arthur made landfall near Morehead City on the night of July 3 with wind gusts of more than 100 mph. It was the earliest hurricane landfall in recorded history for North Carolina.

So what’s ahead in August? The government’s Climate Prediction Center is calling for warmer-than-average temperatures the next two months, with an equal chance of above-average or below-average rainfall.

“I’d like more of what we got in July,” Chambers said. “That was just about right.”

Lyttle: 704-358-6107; Twitter: @slyttle
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