Severe thunderstorms are expected in Asheville

Updated with hurricane watch information.

ASHEVILLE — Severe thunderstorms are expected in western North Carolina on the afternoon of Aug. 7, as a line of “severe” storms tracks through the region, and a National Weather Service meteorologist says damaging winds pose the main threat to Asheville, though… Hail and isolated tornadoes. It is not excluded.

According to the NWS, a strong storm system is tracking eastward from the Great Lakes and lower Midwest, with an associated cold front likely reaching the mid-Atlantic coast late at night, and several thunderstorms expected before sweeping away.

Asheville is classified as an area of ​​enhanced risk, which is 3 out of 5 in the severe thunderstorm risk categories, meaning several severe thunderstorms are likely. Although he’d never heard of it before, meteorologist Mike Rehnberg said, “It’s definitely the kind of thing that surprises us. It’s not something we see all the time.”

He said a “handful” of increased risks occur in the area each year, but they are “uncommon” in a summer month like August.

“Normally when we see these very high severe weather risks, it’s something we see in the spring, think late March into May,” Rehnberg told the Citizen-Times on the morning of August 7. “We wouldn’t normally expect this from them at this time of year, but it’s not surprising that Carolina would see this.”

The last enhanced risk of thunderstorms for Asheville was on March 3.

A “small sliver” of the mountains north of Asheville was upgraded to a moderate danger zone, a 4 out of 5 on the scale, which includes areas near Burnsville in Yancey County and Newland in Avery County, and indicates a more intense, long-lasting area. Widespread severe storms.

The main threat to Asheville

As the line of storms sweeps across the Carolinas, Renneberg said they expect “parts of the curved line” or “really strong localized wind gusts” that could cause significant wind damage in the area.

Storms are expected to hit the area starting at 3pm and continuing into the evening, likely slowing by 5pm, although some rain may still fall.

There is a 50% chance of high winds, with gusts expected between 60 and 70 mph, Renneberg said. The chance of hail ranged around 15-20% and the tornado risk was less than 10%.

“We could see hail with this, and there’s even a passing chance of an isolated weak tornado, but those are not the things that are the primary threats for this event,” he said.

“But once the extreme danger pushes through the area it will be over very quickly after that.”

Although heavy rain is expected, it will be short – the official forecast calls for less than a quarter of an inch – and will not last long enough to cause widespread flooding.

Cloud-to-ground lightning, locally heavy rain, and gusty winds are expected along with any thunderstorms, according to the hazardous weather forecast issued early August 7.

Heat warnings are in effect for areas south and east of Asheville, but not in Buncombe County itself, where temperatures are expected to reach 90 degrees, about five degrees above normal.

Updated at 12:30 PM:

A tornado watch has been issued for parts of North Carolina and Tennessee, including Asheville.

The watch is in effect until 7 p.m., and indicates that conditions are favorable for tornadoes to develop in and near the watch area. As of 1 p.m., NWS meteorologist Doug Outlaw told the Citizen-Times that Henderson and Transylvania counties were not included in the monitoring area.

“A watch for the foothills and Piedmont counties may be issued at a later date, but currently a tornado watch for the mountains of Tennessee, Kentucky and North Carolina is in effect until 7 p.m. and there are currently severe thunderstorms northwest of Knoxville and in the Crossville area of ​​Tennessee,” Outlaw said. North.

Thunderstorms are expected to hit the North Carolina mountains around 1:30-2 p.m., with the bulk of the storm arriving at 3-4 p.m., and emerging from the mountains around 6-7 p.m.

He added: “Thunderstorms will move through the area very quickly. There will be heavy rain, lightning and strong winds. The heavy rain will continue for a short period of time, and hopefully it will not be long enough.” “Rain anywhere could cause any flooding, but there is a small chance of that happening,” Outlaw said. He advised everyone to prepare for what is coming down the road.

At 12:25 p.m., Duke Energy Progress sent out an email notice warning of expected storms and high winds, with “power outages possible.”

They reminded people to “always avoid downed power lines,” and “if you encounter damaged equipment, keep a safe distance and notify local emergency services and Duke Energy as soon as possible.”

What to do when severe weather hits

According to the NWS, acting quickly is key to staying safe and minimizing impacts.

  • Be prepared for the weather: Continue listening to local news or NOAA Weather Radio to stay up to date on severe thunderstorm watches and warnings.
  • in your house: Move to your safe location if you hear a severe thunderstorm warning. Damaging winds or large hail may be approaching. Take your pets with you if time permits.
  • At your workplace or school: Stay away from windows if you are under a severe thunderstorm warning and approaching damaging winds or large hail. Do not go into large, open rooms such as cafeterias, gyms, or auditoriums.
  • the outside: Go inside a sturdy building immediately if severe thunderstorms approach. Barns and storage facilities are not safe. Taking shelter under a tree can be deadly. The tree may fall on you. Standing under a tree also puts you at greater risk of being struck by lightning.
  • In the car: Being in a car during severe thunderstorms is safer than being outside; However, drive to the nearest safe shelter if there is enough time.

Sarah Honoski is the city government reporter for the Asheville Citizen-Times, part of the USA TODAY Network. News tips? Email or message us on Twitter at @slhonosky. Please support local, daily journalism by subscribing to Citizen Times.

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