‘Know what you don’t know’
: New book aims to stop backcountry emergencies before they start

During his 30 years living and teaching in Western North Carolina, Maurice Phipps has heard countless tales of tragedy and near misses set in the Southern Appalachian backcountry — people falling off waterfalls , shivering in the cold  while awaiting rescue after a wrong turn on the trail, or logging hair-raising experiences with wildlife .

Right in rain: After 15 years of forecasting, Local Yokel is shifting focus

Preston Jacobsen, a man some know better as the Local Yokel Weather guy, comes by his love of meteorology honestly.

Along for the ride: Cataloochee thrives amid warm weather, pandemic adaptations

Sun is shifting in and out of the clouds covering Cataloochee Ski Area on Friday, Jan. 14, as I catch a ride to the top of Easy Way with Greenville, South Carolina, resident William Oliver. It’s my first run of the day, but he’s been riding for a while now — and after the warm weather and closures that plagued eastern ski resorts in December, he’s enthusiastic about today’s snow report. 

‘And then it was too late’: Flood warning timeline reveals challenges of mountain forecasting

On the afternoon of Tuesday, Aug. 17, Rob Young was watching the rain fall. He watched it first through the windows of his office at Western Carolina University and then later at his home in Webster — and, continuously, on his computer screen, where ever-changing river depths were displayed through the state’s Flood Inundation Mapping and Alert Network, or FIMAN

The flood timeline

Friday, Aug. 13. Rivers are at normal levels, with a gauge about a mile upstream from Jukebox Junction on the East Fork Pigeon River reading 0.4 feet at 8 a.m., while a gauge on the Pigeon River just outside of Canton reads 1.61 feet.

Jackson narrowly avoided catastrophic floods

While the Cruso area undisputedly received the worst of the flooding in Western North Carolina, it did not receive the worst of the rainfall.

The peculiar weather of the Smokies

Weather continues to be the enduring topic for conversation here in the Smokies region. Long after the Eric Rudolph furor has died down, folks will still be thinking, wondering and talking about the weather. The best weather discussions are about strange weather … the stranger the better. 

This must be the place: If the thunder don’t get you then the lightning will

Though the roads were slick from heavy rainstorms on Tuesday morning, I momentarily couldn’t figure out why my truck was pushing back against my gas pedal on the short drive from my apartment to The Smoky Mountain News office in downtown Waynesville. 

Portal in the snow

I don’t know if our recent ancestors were better weather readers than we, or if they simply knew, by late November, they should be prepared for winter. Nowadays we wait for forecasts from meteorologists, and likely rely on a little intuition as well. But by Thursday (Dec. 6) last week almost everyone was onboard with the idea North Carolina was dead in the sights of a major winter storm.

Wintry weather tests regional response to those seeking shelter from the storm

As many residents of Southern Appalachia stocked up on necessaries in advance of a powerful winter storm that ended up leaving thousands without power, governments and nonprofits across the region scrambled to open shelters and warming stations that wound up being, for some, more of a necessity than milk and bread. 

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