As expected, a disturbance approaching from the west is producing numerous showers and thunderstorms across much of the Southeastern US, including Western North Carolina. A large, slow moving band of rain should hit the track by around 11:30-Noon ET today and linger through much of the afternoon hours.
The latest models sugguest this band of rain will pass through or break apart before the start of tonight’s Sprint Showdown, but that there will continue to be scattered showers and a few thunderstorms developing behind it through this evening. What has changed a little since my forecast on Thursday is that this rain has come in a little earlier than expected two days ago. This could be a good thing or a bad thing, actually. It’s bad because we are now certain that not only will the track need to be dried before the racing can begin (either by the jet dryers or by nature), but also because it will put a damper on pre-race activities for fans in attendance this afternoon. Bob Pockrass mentioned on twitter this morning that AirTitan is NOT at the speedway today, and told me that it is each track’s option to have it onsite, as they are the ones who pay for it to be there (transportation, fuel costs). I find this a little odd given they are at one of the two “home bases” for NASCAR, but I supposed it may not make sense economically to use it for an exhibition race. That said, it sure would be nice since we may not have a whole lot of sunlight left to help dry the track today.
This band coming in contains some very heavy rain with it, so folks planning to drive to the track in the next couple hours may want to give it some time to pass through, or at the very least, be very careful driving in.
If I can be optimistic for a minute though, the heavy rain and thunderstorms moving through this morning and afternoon could be a good thing for the racing tonight… If the rain and storms remain fairly intense and actually passes through fairly quickly, it could “work over” the atmosphere and stabilize it for later this evening, making it harder for more storms to develop behind this initial band of rain.
So it all really comes down to when this band comes to an end and whether the models are trying to end it too quickly. I am worried that they are and that this rain may last a little too long, so at this point, I’d say we’ve got a pretty good chance of at least seeing some delays to the start of tonight’s races, but I want to let the fans know that just because we are going to see some pretty heavy rain over the next few hours in the Charlotte area, there is still a chance of getting this race in tonight, so don’t give up on it just yet.
You can follow me on twitter at @weathersfuori or also get updates from my good friend and fellow Houston meteorologist @RaceWeather.