Conflicting rain totals measured in Polk

Published 8:00 am Friday, June 1, 2018

Some agencies reporting county has received 25-plus inches in May

TRYON — While some agencies report that Polk County has seen more than 25 inches of rain over the last 16 days, the National Weather Service has counted 12.68 inches for the month of May through Tuesday.

NWS recorded 2.25 inches of rain on May 18, 1.38 inches on May 28 and 3.98 inches on May 29.

North Carolina’s Weather Authority, however, says Polk County has received 23.87 inches of rain since May 14. Those totals do not include Wednesday’s heavy rains.

North Carolina’s Weather Authority told the Bulletin it takes its data from Weather Underground, which includes residents sending in information. North Carolina’s Weather Authority then takes that data and averages out the totals for the county.

Weather Underground has several weather stations in Polk County, including in Tryon, Columbus and Saluda. Past data is not available, such as for the entire month of May for a specific station, only for the Greenville/Spartanburg area.

North Carolina’s Weather Authority ranked Polk as third in western North Carolina this week for most rain in the second half of the month. McDowell County received 23.96 inches of rain and Transylvania County received 23.91 inches of rain, slightly ahead of Polk’s 23.87 inches of rain. 

The normal amount of rain for May, according to the NWS, is 4.41 inches of rain, which puts Polk three times that this month. The NWS takes its data from the Tryon Water Plant. 

The severe weather that has pelted the area the last half of May — which has caused the deaths of three people along U.S. 176 in Tryon — has brought the most amount of rain since September 2004, according to NWS records.

Rains in 2004 were from Hurricanes Frances and Ivan, which hit the county back to back and resulted in 18.88 inches of rain during the month of September. On Sept. 7, 2004, Tryon received 8.47 inches of rain; on Sept. 16, 2004, Tryon received 3.42 inches of rain; and on Sept. 27, 2004, Tryon received 3.63 inches of rain, according to the NWS.

So far this year, Tryon has received a total of 38.04 inches of rain, which is 62 percent of the total it normally receives in a year. Tryon usually receives 61.77 inches of rain in a year, according to the NWS.

In January, Tryon received 5.36 inches of rain; February saw 7.30 inches of rain; March had 4.58 inches of rain; April had 8.12 inches of rain and May had seen 12.68 inches as of Tuesday, according to the NWS.

Tryon has received above normal rainfalls so far this year every month except March.

The normal amount for January is 5.10 inches; February is 4.86 inches; March is 5.76 inches; April is 4.58 inches and May is 4.41 inches, according to the NWS.

Polk County has not been classified as abnormally dry since Jan. 23, 2018, according to the North Carolina Drought Management Advisory Council. The last time the county was in a moderate drought was April 18, 2017, and the last severe drought classification for Polk County was in February and March 2017.

The most rain in one day Tryon has ever received occurred on Oct. 24, 1918, during the Flood of 1918, when the area received 9.05 inches of rain, according to NWS records.

The second highest amount of rain recorded in Tryon occurred on Sept. 7, 2004, at 8.47 inches and the third highest amount of rain in one day occurred on Aug. 14, 1928, with 7.5 inches of rain.