Western North Carolina continued to be deluged by rain Wednesday afternoon. Record rainfall has caused rivers and streams to bulge beyond their banks and overflow into roadways.
Macon County Schools called for a two-hour delay Wednesday morning to allow time for the rain to taper off and travel conditions to be safer.
“Our transportation guys went out this morning around 4:30 a.m. [Wednesday] and came back with a report that the rain was really heavy in Otto,” explained Interim Superintendent Dr. Jim Duncan. “They also reported that there were several areas that have large amounts of standing water on the roadways.”
Duncan noted that because of the heavy rains and standing water, mixed with the lack of visibility due to the early morning hours of the bus routes, he made the decision to delay schools until daylight to allow better visibility for drivers.
Dr. Duncan also said that Monday afternoon the Department of Transportation reported road closings in the Cartoogechaye area as well has high waters along River Road in Cullasaja, all factors that were considered when deciding to delay schools on Wednesday.
Buses were able to run safely and did not report any problems.
According to Emergency Service Director David Key, the continued rainfall was the cause of a landslide on Cowee Mountain Tuesday night. Key noted that the slide occurred around 10 p.m. in the Watauga Visit area on Pioneer Trail. The landslide caused damage to one home temporarily trapping the occupants, but resulted in no injuries.
“We will continue to monitor the storm and assist the county for damages,” said Key. “Anyone experiencing problems with flooding should call 9-1-1 so the appropriate actions can be taken.”
With the exception of the landslide, Key reported no significant damage in the county. There have been reports of flooding along low-lying areas.
The National Weather Service extended the flood watch through Thursday evening for Macon and surrounding counties and flooding concerns continue for parts of Western North Carolina, which have already seen mudslides and rising rivers. In all, Wednesday afternoon the weather service had Macon County in a flood advisory, flood watch, winter storm watch, and hazardous weather outlook.
The weather service is calling for the rain to transition into snow Thursday afternoon after 4 p.m. with Macon and the counties of Madison, Mitchell, Yancey, Swain, Haywood, Buncombe, Graham, and northern Jackson having the possibility of seeing anywhere between two to six inches of snow across the higher elevations.
According to the weather service, the weather is expected to clear up by Friday morning. The sun is expected to come out and reach highs around 50 degrees.
Photos by Vickie Carpenter & Brittney Parker