Lots of clouds, but remarkably mild
HI: 67 LOW: 48
The annual and official Hendersonville Christmas Tree Lighting was ushered in Friday night after Thanksgiving to an unsually warm temperature.
The event was held at the historic Henderson County Court House on Main Street, beginning at a scheduled 5:30 PM. Santa appeared on the balcony and sent along his greetings to the several hundred gathered in the spirt of Christmas. The bluegrass band, Letters to Abigail, appeared prior to Santa's arrival, keeping the excited crowd entertainment with Christmas music.
The Annual Christmas Tree Parade will be held next on Saturday morning, December 5th in downtown Hendersonville beginningl at 10 AM.
New North Carolina laws are aimed at cracking down on revenge porn and graffiti, keeping children safe from the liquid used in electronic cigarettes and regulating how law enforcement agencies use automatic license plate readers.
Parts or all of more than 30 laws passed by North Carolina lawmakers will take effect Dec. 1.
Below are highlights from the new laws:
The law bars the distribution of nude images without the subject’s consent and with the intent to cause harm. The offense will be a felony for adult offenders and repeat juvenile offenders. At least twodozen other states have passed laws addressing so-called revenge porn, with most enacted in the past two years.
The state will require child-resistant packaging for the nicotine liquid used in the rapidly growing electronic cigarette industry, with violations resulting in the most severe type of misdemeanor. The bill was approved unanimously by both chambers and had the backing of North Carolina-based cigarette companies and a state task force on child safety.
Penalties have been toughened for those who spray-paint or deface public or private buildings, tombstones or public statues. While vandalism and property damage were previously addressed under state law, the new law creates an offense called “graffiti vandalism.” A violator would be charged with a misdemeanor initially, but upon a third conviction the crime would generally be upgraded to a felony.
The law increases penalties for people who abuse group home residents and requires employees or volunteers who witness abuse to report it. The law was championed by the parents of a young man who was abused at a North Carolina nursing home.
The state created regulations for state and local law enforcement agencies that use automatic license plate readers in patrol cars or at fixed locations. The agencies must have a written policy on the systems’ use and keep maintenance information on file. License plate data captured by the systems can be preserved for only 90 days unless it’s subject to a search warrant or request from a law enforcement agency.
Singers are invited to lift their combined voices for the 11th annual “Messiah Sing” concert on Sunday afternoon, November 29, in the sanctuary of First United Methodist Church, 204 Sixth Avenue West. A 20-piece orchestra and five soloists will accompany the expected 100 singers for this once-a-year performance, directed by Michael Brannon, director of music and organist of First United Methodist Church. Selections from the Christmas and Easter sections of Handel’s “Messiah” will be performed. Singers are asked to bring their own score if possible, and to arrive at the church at 2:00 pm for brief instructions. There will be no rehearsal. The one-hour concert begins at 3:00pm. There is no charge but donations to benefit Interfaith Assistance Ministries will be accepted. The event is sponsored by Henderson County Churches Uniting (HCCU), an organization comprised of eight local congregations. Its members are: First Congregational; First United Methodist; Grace Lutheran; Immaculate Conception Roman Catholic; Providence Baptist; St. James Episcopal; Trinity Presbyterian; and First Presbyterian, PC USA. Convenient and handicap-accessible parking is available in the church’s lot on Buncombe Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues. For more information, visit www.fumchvlnc.org. -30-
Courtesy of Accuweather
The strongest El Niño in 50 years will unfold this winter and significantly alter the chances for a white Christmas across the country this year.
Locations not typically draped in white on Dec. 25 may have a better chance than usual this year due to the weather phenomenon.
Overall, however, a smaller percentage of the U.S. than normal is likely to wake up to the wintry scene associated with the holiday.
"Average snowcover across the U.S. on Christmas Day is between 35 and 40 percent," AccuWeather Meteorologist Ben Noll said.
"I'd expect it to be slightly lower than average this year - not because of a lack of storminess, but because of a lack of sustained cold air behind any storm."
An inch of snow on the ground is considered a white Christmas.
Throughout the month of December, the El Niño-driven weather pattern will send frequent storms from the West Coast across the southern Plains, Deep South and then up the East Coast.
In the days leading up to Christmas, a storm or two may send a shot of wintry weather to the West.
"A strong Pacific jet stream could send a storm or two from California into the Southwest, boosting Sierra snowfall and bringing increased chances for a white Christmas to places like Salt Lake City, Flagstaff and Denver," Noll said.
Some areas across the central and southern Plains could receive a blanket of snow, giving Lubbock, Texas, Oklahoma City and Wichita, Kansas, a better-than-usual shot at a white Christmas.
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"Farther north, it is a bit less certain whether cold will be in place to meet a storm," Noll said.
In some areas, the lack of cold air will lessen the amount of snow that typically falls in the Midwest and East Coast.
A likely eastward storm track up the Appalachians and into the mid-Atlantic might leave places like Asheville, North Carolina, covered in snow.
"Washington, D.C., and Baltimore probably have about average chances for a white Christmas while Philadelphia, New York and Boston have slightly lower-than-normal chances."
The interior Northeast will also have slightly lower-than-usual chances.
The pattern may also result in slightly lower-than-usual chances for the northern Plains and Midwest, including cities like Chicago and Detroit.
"Even if a snowfall were to occur on Dec. 20 or Dec. 21 across parts of the Midwest and Northeast, a relatively quick return to mild air could melt a lot of the snow," Noll said.
SUSPECT HAD PREVIOUSLY BEEN SENTENCED TO 17 YEARS IN PRISON
The Asheville Citizen-Times reports...
A Maine man has been charged in a vehicle chase on Interstate 26 on Wednesday that ended in a construction site off Long Shoals Road.
Brian Scott Witham, 45, of Waterville, was charged Wednesday with felony possession of a stolen motor vehicle, felony fleeing to elude arrest, driving without a license, reckless driving to endanger, and possession of stolen goods, according to warrants at the Buncombe County magistrate's office.
Witham was driving a stolen 2014 Nissan Pathfinder on I-26, and was driving at a speed or in a manner to endanger people or property, warrants allege. He also had a stolen Maryland license plate, according to warrants.
He is further accused of fleeing to elude a N.C. Highway Patrol trooper trying to stop him for driving recklessly, warrants allege.
After a traffic stop on I-26 around noon Wednesday, Witham's passenger, Michael Anthony Benanti, 43, of Lake Harmony, Pennsylvania, got out and surrendered to authorities, trooper Kelly Rhodes said.
Benanti was charged with felony possession of a stolen motor vehicle, according to court records.
Witham then fled the stop, wrecked his vehicle on Long Shoals, took off running into a construction site near the State Employees Credit Union, and was struck by a motorist, Rhodes said.
Witham suffered injuries and was transported to Mission Hospital.
The FBI, which assisted Highway Patrol in the chase, has taken over the case, Rhodes said Friday.
Witham was being held at the Buncombe County Detention Facility on a $250,000 secured bond. Benanti was also being held there on a $200,000 secured bond.
He has an active warrant through the U.S. Marshals Service Maine office for a probation violation on an original charge of a weapon offense, according to warrant documents. He is to be extradited.
An article in the Bangor Daily News of Maine in 1997 described Witham as a "polite bandit who conducted a virtual one-man crime wave in 1994."
That paper reported Witham was sentenced in U.S. District Court to 17 years and seven months in prison after pleading guilty to various charges including three armed robberies in Maine.
Local Christmas tree expert Cathy Briggs at Briggs Nursery and Garden Center has been busy picking out and tagging the trees Briggs will have for sale this year, careful not to cut or dig them up too soon in order to make them last longer into the season.
She says they are going on sale now...at their Horse Shoe location and also on Four Seasons Boulevard between Wendy's and Denny's where they've had them available every Christmas for about 20 years.
Briggs says the prices this year will be about the same as last year.
The local favorite she says is the Fraser Fir, but she points out that mist elevations in WNC are not high enough to grow them sol they have to come from other areas.
Other WNC growers tell WHKP News...
Believe it or not some people have already picked out and brought home their Christmas tree but at Yetter Tree Farm and a lot of other places the first day they’re for sale is the day after Thanksgiving.
Lee Umrysz now has one week to spruce up his Mystic tree farm before the masses arrive.
“They want to come earlier,” says Umrysz. “We get people wanting to come early.”
Fleming’s Feed in Stonington has seen the same thing. They put out their trees last week.
“We thought we were ahead but everyone’s anxious I guess they want Christmas,” says Ambry Fleming Ducharme.
So when is the best time to buy a Christmas tree?
“I think the state even recommends two weeks before for fresh cut three weeks,” says Umrysz.
But these days people are decorating and shopping sooner.
“That’s the first thing I thought of was maybe I should get it right now,” says Carl Redo who reacted to seeing all the holiday trees and wreaths at Fleming’s.
If the holiday spirit takes you over – you’re going to want a tree that will last the whole holiday season.
“The firs last longer as a rule,” says Umrysz who has Balsam, Canaan, and Fraser Firs on his farm.
“Everybody comes in and says I want the best smelling tree,” says Fleming Ducharme. “All of these are the best smelling tree this is the variety you want if you want that Christmas smell.”
Those are Fraser Firs native to North Carolina.
“Once there’s a hard frost the tree becomes dormant so their needle retention is the same whether you cut it that very first day or Christmas eve,” says Fleming Ducharme.
She says once the tree is sold it gets a fresh cut and just needs to be put in water within a couple of hours.
Some people also add a preservative to keep the sap from sealing up the bottom.
If it does seal up, you can try drilling holes in the base or have it cut again so it can take up water.
THE ONLY COMPLETE GUIDE TO ALL LOCAL HOLIDAY ACTIVITIES