Disaster 2012 Web Extra: Remembering the 2004 floods-attachment0

Disaster 2012 Web Extra: Remembering the 2004 floods

With speculation rampant across the world over the possibility of a mysterious cataclysmic event occurring tomorrow, Dec. 21 in conjunction with the supposed end of the Mayan calendar, Xpress took a look at more realistic local threats this week in the story “Tomorrow Never Knows: WNC Disasters Past, Present and Future.” As part of our research for that story, we compiled several photos from one of the biggest natural disasters to strike our region in modern history – the floods of 2004.

Tomorrow never knows: WNC disasters past, present and future-attachment0

Tomorrow never knows: WNC disasters past, present and future


Even as the holidays come barreling toward us, some folks around the globe fear the mythical planet Nibiru may be doing the same and will trigger some unspecified cataclysm on Dec. 21. Notwithstanding the supposed end of the Mayan calendar, however, local agencies seem focused on preparing for more realistic potential threats. Although it may not be the end of the world, Western North Carolina does remain vulnerable to a wide range of natural and human-made catastrophes, including floods, blizzards, fires and even nuclear accidents.

Asheville area readies for winter storm ***UPDATED 9 a.m.***-attachment0

Asheville area readies for winter storm ***UPDATED 9 a.m.***

This morning, it’s icy rain in Asheville, while some mountain counties are reporting 6 inches of snow — one consequence of Sandy, the massive storm battering the East Coast. The National Weather Service has issued a winter storm warning for Western North Carolina, including Buncombe County, until 6 a.m. Wednesday, Oct. 31. Gov. Bev Perdue has declared a state of emergency throughout WNC. (Photo by Bill Rhodes)

Lots of water

The beginning of this week started with significant rainfall over the region thanks to a large weather system that dumped a record amount of rainfall in Asheville on Tuesday, Sept. 18, and provided more rain in two days than we usually expect during the entire month of September!  Our area’s rivers and streams are doing their job of transporting that water downstream — but the evidence of all that moisture was still hanging around early this morning in the form of low clouds.  I shot the image below earlier today as the clouds were beginning to break at 4000 feet — revealing the early fall color that is starting to appear on ridgetops.

The first sign of coming change

The bright yellows of Goldenrod are now plentiful in fields and along roadways in Western North Carolina; last weekend’s cold front brought cooler and drier air into the region; and you may have noticed that some of the leaves on the trees are beginning to lose their deep green color. These first signs of the coming autumn are a welcome sight to many of us who claim fall to be our favorite season.

The lush forests of Western North Carolina

The forests that blanket Western North Carolina go through a yearly cycle of growth that can often occur unnoticed by most of us until we see the colorful displays of leaves in the fall … or have to fight the non-stop weeds of August. The ever-watchful eyes of NASA’s Earth Observing System makes it possible for us to appreciate this annual growth cycle from a new vantage point, thanks to the MODIS (or Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer) instrument aboard the Aqua and Terra satellites.