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Flood watch issued through Thursday for Burke
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Flood watch issued through Thursday for Burke

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With rain expected from both the remnants of Hurricane Eta and a separate front over the next few days, the National Weather Service has issued a flood watch for Burke County.

The watch went into effect at 1 a.m. on Wednesday morning and is set to run through 7 p.m. on Thursday evening. The National Weather Service’s hazardous weather outlook that originally ran through Sunday also has been extended through Monday.

The flood watch covers Burke and the surrounding counties of Avery, Caldwell, Catawba, McDowell and Rutherford. It includes the areas of Dysartsville, Hickory, Jonas Ridge, Morganton, Nebo, Newland, Pine Mountain and Valdese.

“An exceptional plume of subtropical moisture will flow into the area (Tuesday night),” the flood watch reads. “Conditions will be favorable for showers and thunderstorms to develop from this moisture and produce torrential downpours. Additional heavy rainfall may occur at times until a cold front pushes through late Thursday.

“Flooding may occur as soon as (Tuesday night) near the south- and southeast-facing areas of the Blue Ridge Escarpment and adjacent foothills. Rainfall may diminish during the day Wednesday, but likely will occur again Wednesday night and Thursday. Flooding will become increasingly likely in areas that experience multiple rounds of heavy rainfall.”

According to the National Weather Service, a flood watch means there is a potential for flooding based on current forecasts. People are asked to monitor the latest forecasts and be alert for possible flood warnings. Those living in areas prone to flooding should be prepared to take action should flooding develop.

The extended hazardous weather outlook covers Burke, along with Avery, Caldwell, Catawba, Cleveland, Lincoln, McDowell and Rutherford.

“A deep fetch of tropical Atlantic moisture will arrive across the region (Tuesday) evening,” the outlook reads. “Showers will become widespread overnight with embedded isolated to scattered thunderstorms that may result in locally (heavy) rainfall and a few cloud-to-ground lightning strikes. Locations along and near the Blue Ridge Escarpment are the most likely to see heavy rain through daybreak on Wednesday.

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“Through Thursday, a pool of tropical moisture along a cold front may support heavy rainfall with isolated flash flooding of low lying areas, including near streams and urban areas. The greatest threat for flooding is focused from the eastern slopes of the southern Appalachians eastward along and north of the I-85 corridor. A second round of tropical moisture and with periods of heavy rain may arrive this weekend depending on the fate of the remnants of Eta.”

As of Tuesday afternoon, the National Weather Service forecast for Burke County called for a 30 percent chance of scattered showers through Tuesday evening, followed by a chance of rain showers and patchy fog increasing from 50 percent to 90 percent, with thunderstorms possible after 2 a.m. New rainfall amounts between ½ and ¾ inch were possible.

For Wednesday, the forecast calls for a 90 percent chance of rain showers and a possible thunderstorm, mainly before 4 p.m. After 4 p.m., there is a 60 percent chance of rain showers and likely thunderstorms. Patchy fog is expected before 3 p.m. New rainfall amounts between ½ and ¾ inch again are possible.

On Wednesday night, the National Weather Service projects a 90 percent chance of showers and a possible thunderstorm, decreasing to an 80 percent chance. New rainfall amounts are expected to be between ¾ and 1 inch.

Thursday’s weather forecast carries a 70 percent chance of likely rain showers before 10 a.m., followed by likely showers and a possible thunderstorm between 10 a.m. and noon, then a 50 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms after noon. On Thursday night, there is a 30 percent chance of rain showers and thunderstorms before 9 p.m., a slight chance of showers between 9 p.m. and 1 a.m., and a slight chance of rain after 1 a.m.

After a mostly sunny Friday and a mostly clear Friday night, the National Weather Service forecasts for Saturday a 30 percent chance of rain showers and thunderstorms after 1 p.m. On Saturday night, there is a 50 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. And on Sunday, the forecast calls for a 30 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms.

In additional Atlantic activity, the National Hurricane Center reported that Subtropical Storm Theta formed on Monday night out over the open ocean. It is the first-ever 29th named storm in one hurricane season, breaking a record from 2005 that previously was tied by Eta. Hurricane season does not officially end until Nov. 30.

For a complete forecast from the National Weather Service, visit weather.gov.

Justin Epley is a staff writer for The News Herald. He can be reached at jepley@morganton.com.

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