Asheville Mountain Real Estate Blog

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Location: Mars Hill, NC, United States

A small, highly personalized real estate firm specializing in mountain homes and land in greater Asheville.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Mountain Weather: A Primer

Many an area of the country will boast, "If you don't like the weather, just wait an hour, it will change". The mountain counties around Asheville are no different.

The fickle nature of our weather though just might be more true than elsewhere. The changes in elevation that we experience in our daily lives, and the slope of our terrain are important weather items as we shall see.

It was 67 degrees F at the airport yesterday, and today's forecast calls for everything from 2 to 5 inches of rain, and even snow. Whether you experience snow, or even the amount of rainfall all depends on where you are.

The Big Three
No, not the automakers, but there are three main factors that are part and parcel of the region's weather.

1) The Lapse Rate
This is the name that describes the simple fact, that as we travel to higher elevations, the temperature drops. Over the course of a day in greater Asheville, a person could easily change elevations by 3,000 or 4,000 feet, with just a 20 mile drive.

A 4,000 ft change in elevation can account for more than 14 degrees difference from the low land to the high land. This is the difference between rain or snow, a summer heat wave or comfort.

For a complete explanation of the lapse rate, please see our detailed explanation here.

2) Orographic Lift - Orographic Precipitation
When air masses sweep into the mountains, they are forced upwards. The lower temperatures and pressure means they lose their ability to hold moisture. So higher elevations get more rain than the City of Asheville, which sits at 2,288 feet above sea level.

Yep, the higher you live, the more liquid you are likely to see from the sky.

For a complete explanation of orographic rainfall, please see our detailed explanation here.

3) Microclimates
This is the idea that a particular valley can be warmer or colder than its surroundings. It depends on the exposure, e.g., South facing, and the steepness of the slopes which can hang onto air masses or weather in a very localized manner.

We have an area in one corner of our County that some locals call The Bermuda Triangle, for its ability to experience near blizzard conditions while the sun might be shining a mere 5 miles away.

For a complete explanation of microclimates, please visit our detailed explanation.

Mountain weather is not like the flat lands. The terrain here, which way it faces, and how steep it is can all make one's experience at home, quite different than down in the city.

Thanks for stopping by,
Black Bear Realty Website
828 689 2055
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Filed Under: Asheville Weather and Mountain Life

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