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2018 falls short of being wettest year on record

SALISBURY — The tallies are in: 2018 was not the wettest year on record for Rowan County. But it came close.

According to National Weather Service data recorded at two Rowan sites, the county saw 65.24 and 65.26 inches of precipitation last year.

The numbers fall about 5.4 inches shy of a record held at the site closest to downtown Salisbury: 70.69 inches seen in 1929.

National Weather Service meteorologist Lauren Carroll said the year came in third place at this location. Second went to 1928 with 67.32 inches, and fourth to 1936 with 61.82.

The totals were record-breaking by more than 5 inches at a site 9 miles outside the city with fewer years of data. From 1954 onward, the second-wettest year compared to 2018 was 2003, with a recorded 60.13 inches.

Between 1.4 to 1.82 inches was amassed during the last four days of the year, she said.

Though not record-breaking, the totals still greatly exceed the average downfalls from years past: 42.81 inches.

Carroll said a lot of factors contributed to the higher than average accumulation.

“Some of what really nudged us over the edge was toward the end of this year,” she said. “We had a super wet December.”

Carroll said she also expected a declaration that this area experiencing a La Nina weather pattern soon. Weather trends just needed to hold for a few more weeks.

This meant that multiple jet streams had aligned with the southeast, drawing in wet, low-pressure storms.

“Think of it like a conveyor belt,” she said.

Year-to-date precipitation totals are not yet available for Rowan County as the agency that makes the numbers official is unable to work during the federal government shutdown, Carroll said.

But she said things are starting off “pretty well.”

“We’re going to start of the water year at a surplus,” she said with a laugh, then offered some words of encouragement.

“Next week, it’s going to be drier.”

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