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Wind not rain poses biggest threat to apple crop

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Tropical Storm Nate could ruin the Columbus holiday weekend as far as outdoor activities go and depending on wind velocity could threaten the late-season apple crop in Henderson County.

Tracking on a path toward the southern Appalachians starting Sunday, the tropical storm could bring excessive rain and gusty winds, the National Weather Service. Our run of warm dry weather comes to an end Saturday and Sunday, when the rain chance rises to 70 percent. Chance of rain Monday is 100 percent.

"I don't expect unless we get a lot of wind that it will be too bad from a crop standpoint," said Terry Kelly, the Henderson County Agriculture Extension office director. "We can use the rain though we certainly can't use 4 inches of rain. As long as it gets in and out of here and doesn't have a lot of wind I think we'll be OK."

The apple harvest is winding down, he added, though growers have yet to pick late varieties. Sustained high winds could knock those off, causing substantial losses.




EARLIER STORY: Our run of near perfect fall weather could come to an end this weekend thanks to the approach of a storm brewing in the Gulf of Mexico.


Now a tropical depression, the storm would become Tropical Storm Nate if it strengthens. Forecast cones show that it could reach the Hendersonville area by Sunday night. Cautioning that it's still early, a forecaster with the National Service in Greer, S.C., said the area could see substantial rain.

"It’s still too early to say with much confidence that it’s going to impact the area," meteorologist Jake Wimberley said Wedndesday. "It’s still a tropical depression but it is expected to strength as it moves over warm water of the Gulf of Mexico. Beyond that it’s even less certain whether it comes across the Carolinas or goes up to the Tennessee valley.

"The forecast cone does have Hendersonville well inside the cone. There’s still room for it to change. Wouldn’t advise people to start making definite plans but it’s pretty likely that it’s going to make landfall somewhere along the mid-Gulf Coast.”
Our area would see rain mainly Sunday night and Monday “if it does track as it appears most likely to track” toward the southern mountains. “It could be anywhere from a very small amount and it could be as much as 7 or 8 inches. Officially we don’t have any forecast yet.”

A track toward Henderson County combined with wind could make for a big rain.

“If it’s a little further west and a lot of upslope wind then Hendersonville and the surrounding area would see tremendous amount of more rainfall than they would if it tracked toward midlands of South Carolina.”

In the meantime, enjoy more great weather for a few more days.

The forecast calls for sunny skies Thursday after early fog, with a high of 77. Friday should be sunny with a high of 77. There's a 30 percent chance of rain Saturday, with a high of 72, then a 70 percent chance on Sunday and Monday. A chance of showers and thundershowers continues through Tuesday.