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Warm December ends 2011 at Grandfather

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Article Published: Jan. 12, 2012 | Modified: Jan. 12, 2012
Warm December ends 2011 at Grandfather

Visitors to Grandfather Mountain take in the view near the Mile-High Swinging Bridge.

Photo by Kristen Pickeral

The automatic weather station at the top of Grandfather Mountain recorded an average high temperature for December of 43.1 degrees and the average low temperature of 29.5 degrees.

These numbers read just a bit lower than the State Climate Office data from Mt. Mitchell State Park. The average high temperature at Mt. Mitchell was 44.4 degrees, and the average low temperature was 30.3 degrees.

A total of 4.95 inches of rain was recorded in December at the weather data reporting station located at the top of Grandfather Mountain. This amount is 0.92 inches (23 percent) above the 56-year average rainfall total for the month of 4.03 inches.

Grandfather Mountain measures precipitation at multiple locations on the mountain. An automatic weighing precipitation gauge on the corner of the Top Shop parking lot recorded 5.81 inches of liquid precipitation (rain and the melted equivalent of snow) this month. A manual gauge at the entrance gate recorded 5.31 inches, and a manual gauge at the Fudge Shop recorded 5.53 inches.

The snowfall total for the month measured at the Top Shop was 0.2 inches, falling 98 percent short of the 56-year average snowfall total for December of 8.63 inches. Using this measurement, Grandfather Mountain has had 3.10 inches of snow for the winter-to-date compared to the norm of 10.53 inches for this point in the season.

Entrance gate employees recorded 1.5 inches of snow for the month, and the naturalist staff recorded 2.1 inches at the equipment near the Fudge Shop.
Wind gusts of more than 60 mph were recorded seven times. The highest three-second gust during the month was 100.5 mph recorded December 28.

In 2011, the month with the most rain was September with 9.26 inches, and the month with the least rain was August with 2.17 inches. The most rain to fall in one day during 2011 was 3.32 inches on Sept. 6. The rainiest day ever at Grandfather Mountain was Sept. 8, 2004, when 11.3 inches of rain fell.

The yearly temperature averages are complete minus 17 days of data lost in January due to an equipment failure. The average mean temperature for the year was 47.5 degrees. The average high temperature for the year was 54.8 degrees and the average low temperature was 41.1 degrees.

The warmest temperature in 2011 was 77.8 degrees recorded June 1. The coldest temperature was minus 4.4 degrees on Jan. 9.

In 2011, wind speeds exceeded 60 mph 76 times. The highest three-second gust recorded was 115 mph Jan. 26. This reading broke the record for the highest gust recorded on Grandfather’s Swinging Bridge equipment. The previous record was 106.95 mph, set on Feb. 11, 2008.

Total recorded snowfall for 2011 was 35.59 inches compared to a 56-year average of 52.44 inches, down 32 percent.

For more information on Grandfather Mountain’s weather data or to access current conditions, visit

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