Partly to mostly sunny & seasonable
HI: 46 LOW: 25
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.
California Ski Resorts Enjoy Earliest Open Since 2012 Due to El Nino Snowfall
Toxic Algal Bloom Spurred by Pacific 'Warm Blob' Wreaks Havoc for West Coast Crab Fishermen
Five Major US Cities With the Highest Probability for a White Christmas
"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.
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.
RE-CYCLE THOSE CHRISTMAS TREES AT JACKSON PARK THROUGH SATURDAY JANUARY 9
THE ONLY COMPLETE GUIDE TO ALL LOCAL HOLIDAY ACTIVITIES
Henderson County Sheriff Charles McDonald is among 23 sheriffs who on Thursday signed a resolution supporting Gov. Pat McCrory's call for the federal government to halt the resettlement of Syrian refugees in North Carolina.
"... The listed sheriffs support the efforts of Governor McCrory in assuring that no refugees are permitted in our state, without proper vetting, so we as public servants and public guardians can assure the safety and welfare of our citizens," states a news release issued by the Henderson County Sheriff's Office.
"This is not a political issue, it is a public safety issue," the statement continues. "Our concerns cross party lines as do the list of sheriffs included with this news release.
"Our concern is the wholesale introduction of refugees who have not been properly identified as friends of America places our country in great danger. The following sheriffs have signed on with Gov. McCrory at this time with more signing up daily."
The sheriffs named, in addition to McDonald, are BJ Barnes of Guilford County; Alan Cloninger of Gaston County; Terry Johnson, Alamance County; Steve Bizzell, Johnston County; Sam Page, Rockingham County; Asa Buck, Carteret County; Mike Andrews, Durham County; Jack Smith, Northhampton County; Doug Doughtie, Dare County; David Grice, Davidson County; John Ingram, Brunswick County; Tracy Carter, Lee County; Ernie Coleman, Beaufort County; Darren Campbell, Iredell County; Michael Whaley, Pamlico County; Alan Jones, Caldwell County; Dan Gibbs, Martin County; Neil Godfrey, Moore County; David Carpenter, Lincoln County; Kevin Frye, Avery County; Susan Johnson, Currituck County; and Hans Miller, Onslow County.
McDonald was attending his mother's funeral on Thursday and was unavailable for comment. The sheriff's spokesman, Maj. Frank Stout, said the sheriff would have a statement at a later date.
McCrory is among more than 20 governors who have asked President Obama to halt the flow of Syrian refugees into their states following the Paris terror attacks.
The governor said Monday that North Carolina had received 59 refugees from Syria from early 2014 through last month but the state had almost no security information about them.V
THAT "DIVERGING DIAMOND" INTERCHANGE NC DOT HAS BEEN WORKING ON NOW FOR SEVERAL YEARS IN OPEN AT THE ASHEVILLE AIRFPORT...BUT THE WORK ISN'T FINISHED YET.
The Airport Road bridge reopened ahead of schedule Monday morning. Now, drivers are navigating a new traffic pattern at the intersection of I-26 and Airport Road.
It's called a "Diverging Diamond Interchange," where drivers will shift onto the opposite of the roadway when crossing the bridge.
The DOT describes the pattern as saying that "motorists will proceed through a traffic signal at the entrance to the interchange, and simply follow their lane to the opposite side of the roadway. Motorists needing to access the interstate turn left on the on-ramp without having to stop for additional traffic signals or wait for oncoming traffic to pass. Motorists needing to drive straight through the intersection proceed through a second traffic signal and follow their lane back to the right side of the road. Pavement markings and signals direct motorists to where they need to go."
You can click here for a video that illustrates this pattern
DOT officials say this is the first "Diverging Diamond" traffic pattern in our area and only the third one in the state.
Crews shut down the Airport Road bridge Friday night at 9, working around the clock to install the new pattern by 6am Monday. The bridge reopened ahead of schedule Monday morning.
This phase of construction is part of the overall Airport Road improvement project, to improve traffic flow along the route. DOT officials say the entire Airport Road project is expected to wrap up November of 2016.
Photos by WHKP News Director Larry Freeman
Following a large, popular and successful Ingles Supermarket, other businesses are now looking to develop along the five-lane Boyleston Highway in Mills River.
The Mills River Planning Board has received a request from Twelve Oaks LLC for a special use permit to develop a medical institutional care facility at 183 Old Turnpike Road. The property also faces Boyleston Highway. This will not be a de-tox center, and clients of the facility will be those dealing with mental health and behavioral issues that have led to substance abuse. Town sources in Mills Rive say the 10 thousand square foot house already on the property would be used to house up to 15 patients.
Another business is proposing to develop 20.4 acres of farmland along Highway 280, across from and a bit south west of Ingles. Owned by the Moore family, that property is currently zoned for neighborhood commercial use and a change to a general business zoning classification would be needed by the proposed developer. The Town Zoning Board says there are a number of factors that make such development of that property a good idea…including its proximity to general business to the south, the large Ingles development to its north, and a five-lane thoroughfare that carries about 20,000 cars per day.
Mills River’s town Council will be considering all this at its December 10th meeting.
Another new business…a uniform rental business…has also broken ground along Boyleston Highway and Turnpike Road.
And Mills River Fire and Rescue plans to construct an all new department headquarters and main station on nearby property within the next five years.
After two years of planning, months of construction and one change in location, Bold Rock Hard Cider is ready to begin production in Mills River, just a few miles from the big Sierra Nevada brewery.
Bold Rock has completed renovations of a 22,000-square-foot building at 72 School House Road in Mills River, installed equipment and received its federal permit, company founder John Washburn said. Cider making could begin by this weekend, with the first completed batch in about three weeks, Washburn said.
A public tasting room that includes a deck has not yet opened, but Bold Rock might be welcoming visitors in a few weeks, general manager Frank Merritt said. That venue will offer Bold Rock ciders on draft and the plan is to include food trucks and occasional live music, he said. The cider maker has 10 workers on the job now, but that will double to 20 by the end of November and by summer of 2016 the work force will reach 25-30, he said.
Bold Rock, which also operates a cidery in Nellyford, Virginia, already has a presence in local grocery stores and on tap in Western North Carolina. To expand, Washburn took aim on WNC and its renowned apple-growing country. The company initially bought a 10-acre site in Mills River, but shifted gears and moved ahead in an existing building. Originally, plans called for a June opening, but there was a delay in receiving and installing tanks, Washburn said. "It's been a long way for us, and it's been frustrating, but we are 100 percent done," he said. "The apple crop was very successful this year, and everything is ready to go." Bold Rock is sold in both Carolinas, Tennessee, Virginia, Maryland, the District of Columbia and Pennsylvania.
The company will likely focus on its current distribution area before taking on more territory, Merritt said. In WNC, the cider is distributed by Budweiser of Asheville.
The hard cider scene is growing quickly across the country and in the Asheville area. Bold Rock will be the seventh and biggest cider maker in Western North Carolina, joining such other players as Noble Cider (which recently opened a new cidery in Asheville), Urban Orchard in West Asheville, Black Mountain Ciderworks in Black Mountain, Naked Apple in Flat Rock and Three Sisters and Saint Paul Mountain Vineyards, both in Hendersonville.
Across North Carolina, 17 cider makers are in business. There are two in South Carolina including the newly opened Hub City Tap House: Home of Cyclops Cyder in Spartanburg.