Copyright notice

This article is from the Encyclopedia of North Carolina edited by William S. Powell. Copyright © 2006 by the University of North Carolina Press. Used by permission of the publisher. For personal use and not for further distribution. Please submit permission requests for other use directly to the publisher.

Printer-friendly page

Isothermal Belt

by Paul L. McCraw, 2006

The isothermal belt is a zone in western North Carolina, primarily in Rutherford and Polk Counties, in which temperature inversion resulting in milder temperature contributes to longer growing seasons than in the immediate surrounding region. The phenomenon usually occurs on the southern slopes of mountains and foothills protected from frost and freezing temperatures by higher mountains to the north and northwest. The temperature inversion, possible at any time, usually develops in the early spring. The condition is advantageous for tender plant life and early blooming trees as well as for the cultivation of fruit, especially apples and grapes.

In 1858 Silas McDowell of Franklin coined the name "isothermal belt" based on the concept of the isotherm, a line on a weather map linking all points that have an identical mean temperature for a given time. Since then the term has been widely used and modified by scientists and area residents to sometimes exaggerate the advantages of the area. The names of Thermal City in Rutherford County and Isothermal Community College, which serves Rutherford and Polk Counties, are derived from this term.

 

Authors: 
Origin - location: 

Add a comment

PLEASE NOTE: NCpedia provides the comments feature as a way for viewers to engage with the resources. Comments are not published until reviewed by NCpedia editors at the State Library of NC, and the editors reserve the right to not publish any comment submitted that is considered inappropriate for this resource. NCpedia will not publish personal contact information in comments, questions, or responses. If you would like a reply by email, note that some email servers, such as public school accounts, are blocked from accepting messages from outside email servers or domains. If you prefer not to leave an email address, check back at your NCpedia comment for a reply. Please allow one business day for replies from NCpedia. Complete guidelines are available at https://ncpedia.org/about.