Good news … rain's coming

A type of weather system more commonly seen in winter is expected to bring some drought relief to the Charlotte metro region Wednesday.

Forecasters expect a storm system to form later today along a stalled cold front in the Gulf of Mexico, then sweep northeast across the Carolinas on Wednesday. That system, which is seen several times every winter and is responsible for the ice storms and snowfalls in the Southeast, could bring from 1/2 inch to 1 inch of rain to the Charlotte area.

“The development of a surface low along a front over the Deep South at this time of year is somewhat unusual,” said Pat Moore, of the National Weather Service office in Greer, S.C.

The precipitation, obviously, is badly needed in the region. Rainfall so far this year is about 6 inches below normal at Charlotte/Douglas International Airport, although some locations have received much more rain. Either way, hydrologists say most of our area is suffering from a severe drought.

The storm system expected to cross our region Wednesday will bring cloudy skies, frequent periods of showers (or possibly an extended period of rain), and cooler temperatures. Highs on Wednesday will stay in the upper 70s, forecasters say. Today, under mostly sunny skies, highs are expected to reach the upper 80s. There is a Code Orange air quality alert today, due to anticipated high ozone levels this afternoon. That could cause problems for people with chronic respiratory problems.

By Thursday, more normal summer conditions are forecast, with a small chance of an afternoon thunderstorm and highs in the upper 80s.

Computer models are varying widely in their forecasts for the weekend, and meteorologists are taking a wait-and-see attitude.