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Submitted by Tim Buckley on Fri, 08/20/2010 - 8:01am.
Making up for lost time are we? Yesterday the story was rainfall deficits - today it's localized flooding!
While I certainly don't root for heavy flooding rains and constant lightning strikes, seeing the radar screen lit up when I came in around 3 this morning was a bit of a welcomed change. It's been probably close to three weeks since I've been able to use our Storm Track 3 radar on "Good Morning Carolina". After a while, it gets tough just talking about temperatures!
We told you yesterday about how dry it's been in the Wilmington area, being around 9.5" below where we should be. Since then, we've seen nearly 2" of rain officially at the airport - with higher totals in surrounding areas.
The first round of storms came yesterday afternoon, wholloping Columbus, Brunswick, and New Hanover counties with just drenching rains. At times, the rain was coming down at a rate of 3"/hr -- more than enough to help flood roads especially across the city of Wilmington.
This morning, Mother Nature hit us with another round of storms that strengthened right around the Cape Fear River just after 4am this morning. Many woke up to loud thunder and nearly continuous lightning from these cells as they plowed through. Here's what our Storm Track 3 radar saw during the passage of the storms.
Notice the hundreds of lightning strikes in the 15 minute period on this image as the storm approached New Hanover Co.
Taking a 3-D look at the storms shows just how fast these storms intensified vertically as they approached Wilmington. Thunderstorms develop through intense rising motion in the atmosphere. As a general rule, the higher the cloudtops, the more intense the thunderstorm. These radar echoes were showing up over 40,000ft in spots!
When we started tracking the storms this morning they were mainly cellular, or singular, in structure. But as they approached the Cape Fear River, they formed a line just along its banks stretching from Wilmington all the way to Bald Head Island.
Early on, the strongest storms were to the north, but by the end of the hour, the strongest cells were on the southern edge of the line - dousing Southport, Caswell Beach, and Bald Head Island with torrential downpours and nearly continuous lightning strikes.
From there things dissipated rather quickly as the storms moved off onto the open waters. This leaves us to play the waiting game Friday morning as we watch low clouds and fog across the area give way to mostly sunny skies for the afternoon.
The cold front clears the area today and while it won't really bring us cool air - it will lower the humidity. We'll first notice the refreshing air overnight as lows drop to 70 in the city, and the upper 60s outside of town. You'll still be able to breathe easy on Saturday with dewpoints much lower than recent days, in the 60s (that's very comfortable by our August terms).
As far as weekends go, we'll call this a good one. But Saturday is definitely the best of the bunch. Heading into Sunday a bit of a coastal trough forms and tries to push onshore - bringing with it some clouds and low level moisture. Long story short - pretty decent chance for some showers and storms, mainly in the afternoon.
But don't fret. It's the weekend! Hope it's a good one.
That's all for now.
By: Tim Buckley