Welcome to a new segment here on this website that is aimed at helping prepare you to head out the door and get exploring the waterfalls in West Virginia’s beautiful hills and mountains!
This forecast is designed to determine how conditions look from a meteorological perspective (is there a lot of groundwater, forecast precipitation, etc.) to help you find waterfalls that will be worth seeing during the forecast.
This forecast will be updated every Friday afternoon/evening and will be in effect for the entirety of the following week (Saturday to Friday). I am a meteorologist that forecasts for this area, so it is great to be able to combine two of my passions into one product. If you see something else you’d like included in this weekly weather discussion, please let me know at my email: email@example.com.
With that said, let’s get started!
- Below normal precipitation over the last month combined with forecast below normal precipitation for the next week will continue to make it difficult for small stream waterfalls to produce good flow.
- Stick with dependable waterfalls, such as Blackwater Falls in Tucker County and Dunloup Creek Falls in Fayette County until precipitation picks back up.
We start with a look at the current streamflow of various waterways across the Mountain State. Streamflow is a measure of the rate at which water flows through a body of water. In the map below, green indicates a streamflow that is near normal, with light blue indicating above average streamflow and dark blue indicating much above average streamflow. On the flip side, yellow indicates below normal streamflow, maroon indicted much below streamflow and bright red indicates an all-time low streamflow for the day.
Overall, the state continues to experience a lot of below average streamflow rates. In fact, Warm Springs Run near Berkeley Springs in the eastern panhandle is experiencing some record low streamflow rates for the end of November. A lot of yellow streamflow rate icons are showing up over the mountains and this is an area that has been below average for precipitation for quite some time.
Next, we’ll take a look at the precipitation totals over the last seven days, shown below. Once again, you’ll notice that rainfall totals have been below average for basically the entirety of the state and this is especially prevalent over the eastern panhandle and the West Virginia mountains. Some places over this region, including toward the Petersburg, Moorfield and Spruce Knob areas have picked up less than 10 percent of their usual rainfall amounts for the past seven days – it’s been dry! This has also raised the alarm for forest fires with the leaves coming down over the last month and a half (click on images to zoom in).
The situation doesn’t improve a lot even over the last month for the state, with the majority of the state experiencing below average precipitation totals. Elkins and Snowshoe are estimated to be between an inch and an inch and a half below normal for the month. The only spot where we really see this improve for the thirty day period is a small area in the eastern panhandle across parts of Hardy and Pendleton counties, where some impressive rainfall fell over a small area. About 90 percent of the state remained below average.
Looking ahead, the pattern does not favor an improvement in streamflow increases, either, with below average rainfall expected over the next week. The areas that would most likely see the highest precipitation will likely fall in the form of snow over the West Virginia mountains in the form of upslope. That’ll be good for the groundwater supply up in the highlands, as the combination of cold temperatures (for better soil retention) and some more impressive precipitation accumulations should not cause this area to have worse streamflow rates over the next week, as you can see in the image below.
However, in much of the lowlands both west and east of the mountains, not much rainfall is forecast as a result of expansive ridging taking place over the eastern U.S., which is quite contrary to the troughing that has taken a grip over this region of the country for the better part of the last month. In addition, temperatures are forecast to be become slightly above average by midweek next week, which will allow for water in the ground to not retain itself as well as it has in what has been a below average month for temperatures.
Thus, for the next week, this is going to be a week where the streams with a larger and steadier flow will be the dependable options to get good shots. Waterfalls like Blackwater Falls in Tucker County or on Dunloup Creek in Fayette County shouldn’t let you down. However, waterfalls along the small streams will continue to have a hard time carrying good flow for now.