Cover Story: Wet Winter Weather

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Since the beginning of December, we've gotten twice our normal rainfall.  All the areas lakes and reservoirs are filled to capacity.  Compared to last winter, when we were coming out of a drought.. that's great news for farming, fishing, and boating.  But those higher water levels mean rising concerns for some people.  PrimeTime's Jeff Atkinson looks at the impact in our Cover Story.

The folks who live along the water have noticed it.  It comes as no surprise to them, we've had a boat-load of rain this winter.  How far we've come out of the drought.

"Water came up and pushed all this trash up in here..."

Larry Garrett can laugh about it now as he showed us where the flood waters rose at the end of last week.  His wife Glenda took pictures as proof.

But it gave him quite a scare, he and his neighbors who live on Mountain Island Lake in northwest Mecklenburg county when the water level jumped in about six hours.

He said, "I thought to myself I said Glenda we're going to have to get some flood insurance... laughs. This water's coming to the house."

Since last Friday, the water's gone down dramatically.  With all the rain this winter and fall area lakes have been running high.

Since December 1st, the Charlotte metro area's received a foot of rain.  That's not a record but it is twice the amount we normally get in December and January.

And particularly significant because we've had on and off droughts now over the last ten years.

"By and large when we have this much rain water.. it's a good thing," says WBTV Meteorologist Al Conklin.  "I mean we're recharging our aquifers, the lakes, the streams everything that we want. But it maybe almost a case where it's too much of a good thing."

For folks like Larry Garrett.  Normally in the winter months his boat dock the black pylons you see here would be sitting on dry ground.  It's during the winter months repairs are made to docks and bridges on area lakes.

In fact, for the first time in a long time as this map from the U.S. Drought Monitor shows no area East of the Rockies is in drought.

Says Conklin, "We had a wet fall. We're having a cold wet winter and right now it looks like the el Nino's going to hold on at least through the spring. So unless things change rather dramatically I don't think that they will I think you can see the status quo continuing."

Meaning more rain but putting us in a good position which we haven't been in a long time heading into the traditionally dry summer months.

Even though at times we may feel like we need to build an ark.

"It rained super heavy.. but it stopped and I'm glad it did," says Larry Garrett.

At some point the el Nino which is causing this wet weather will run out of gas, according to Al and Eric and the other meteorologists.

When you ask?  Probably during the spring.  But at least for the next 2-to-3 months we're going to see above normal rainfall, meteorologists think.