Spring 1998

NCSU Seal North Carolina ClimateSCO Seal

A Newsletter of the State Climate Office of North Carolina

Volume 2 | Number 2 | Spring 1998

In This Issue...

History of the NC Agricultural Weather and Climate Network

Katharine B. Perry In 1997, a statewide network of fourteen automatic weather stations was integrated into State Climate Office operations through a cooperative arrangement between the SCO and the North Carolina Agricultural Research Service. Components of this network were gradually installed between 1978 and 1987. Stations were placed at a field laboratory and thirteen of the fifteen research stations of North Carolina State University and the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. The network was a pioneer venture at its inception. At that time there were no suppliers of automatic weather stations. The original stations were designed and built by NC State University's Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering under the leadership of Dr. James H. Young.

In April 1991, the supervision of the AgNet was transferred to the NC Agricultural Weather Program, administered through the Department of Horticultural Science. Between May 1992 and August 1993, stations were upgraded with more advanced data loggers.

Efforts are underway to further improve the stations and data collection and distribution. Initially, data were only accessible by the university community. Today the data are accessible by anyone via the SCO Website or by contacting the State Climate Office. The network continues to provide vital information for agriculture and related research in North Carolina.

Dr. Katharine B. Perry
Professor of Horticultural Science
North Carolina State University

From the State Climatologist...

Sethu Raman It was an active winter with above normal precipitation occurring across North Carolina. Twelve storms that formed over the Gulf of Mexico tracked east of the Appalachians producing precipitation two to three times the normal values. Interest in El Niño has contributed to a significant increase in data requests.

The theme of this issue is the North Carolina Agricultural Weather and Climate Network (AgNet), a valuable data resource. This summer we will be busy modernizing at least six sites to World Meteorological Organization standards and installing 10-meter towers. We are hoping that this network will provide a foundation for an expanded North Carolina Environmental Observation Network that will eventually cover all 100 counties in North Carolina.

Another valuable resource has been Dr. Peter Robinson, the NC Climate Program Coordinator and Professor of Geography (UNC-CH), who was on sabbatical at the SCO during the spring semester. Dr. Robinson intends to visit the SCO every week beginning Fall 1998 to interact with the staff. We also have three undergraduate students working at the SCO: Wendy Sellers, Aaron Sims, and Frank Murray. Wendy has been assisting in data dissemination since March. Aaron is working with archived AgNet data and Frank will be assisting in data dissemination and storm data entry this summer. We welcome these three young and energetic persons to the SCO. In addition, we are fortunate to have had the expertise of many visiting scientists and guests.

The SCO is reaching out to the state agencies to offer its multi-disciplinary expertise in various problems such as air quality, water quality, public health, offshore climatology, emergency management, and coastal management. We are also providing information to various community organizations on North Carolina climate. As can be seen from the Recent Activities and Visitors section in this newsletter, we are striving hard to serve North Carolina.

Have a nice, safe summer!

At the service of North Carolina,

Sethu Raman's Signature
Sethu Raman
State Climatologist of North Carolina

North Carolina Agricultural Weather and Climate Network

Map of Agnet Stations
Click map to enlarge

The State Climate Office of North Carolina (SCO) operates and maintains a network of agro-meteorological stations in conjunction with the North Carolina Agricultural Research Services (NCARS) of the College of Agricultural and Life Science, NCSU. This network (called the AgNet) is composed of 14 instrumented monitoring sites and three observer sites as shown in the map above. Agro-meteorological variables are measured every hour throughout the year. The parameters measured include the following: wind speed, wind direction, rainfall, air temperature, soil temperature, relative humidity, atmospheric pressure, photosynthetically active radiation, and net radiation. This data is updated every morning at 5 am on the SCO website (http://climate.ncsu.edu).

This network is a very important and unique data source for North Carolina and the SCO intends to steadily improve it. Plans for the near future include installing 10-meter towers and bringing instrumentation to World Meteorological Organization standards. In addition, we plan to provide data on a hourly basis to National Weather Service and other agencies for air quality, public health, and environmental analysis. Another priority is investigating research problems related to North Carolina microclimatic variability. The AgNet is also being used to develop a working prototype of a user-friendly SCO Database with active participation from graduate students from the College of Engineering (Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering). These efforts include cross-disciplinary participation with active involvement from Horticultural Science, Atmospheric Science, Plant Pathology, Computer Engineering, and Electrical Engineering. For more information on AgNet data, please contact Devdutta S. Niyogi (dev_niyogi@ncsu.edu or 919-513-2101).

SCO Summer Climate Outlook

Although El Niño is weakening, its lingering effects will continue to influence North Carolina this spring and into early summer. In September 1997, we applied a statistical model that accurately predicted a wetter winter. The results of that same model suggest that, for the summer, temperatures should be above normal and precipitation below normal, especially along the coast. In addition, Atlantic hurricane activity may be suppressed, at least for the early part of the season. However, the latest indications suggest near normal tropical storm activity for the late summer and early autumn as the influence of El Niño disappears.

Recent Activities

  • El Niño Interview with WRAL-TV5, Raleigh, Feb 23, Dr. Sethu Raman, Brian Potter
  • Presentation to Triangle Board Sailing Club, Raleigh, Mar 4, 1998, Ryan Boyles
  • Presentation to US Army Corps of Engineers, Blowing Rock, NC, March 26, Ryan Boyles
  • Presentation to Greg Haten, NC Department of Commerce, March 26, Raleigh, Dr. Sethu Raman, Devdutta S. Niyogi
  • Visit to Southeast Regional Climate Center, April 1, Columbia, SC, Dr. Sethu Raman, Devdutta S. Niyogi, Brian Potter
  • "Ask the Expert" Panel, April 21, WTVD News Channel 11, Durham, Dr. Sethu Raman, Ryan Boyles
  • El Niño, Severe Storm, and Climate Change interviews with WTVD 11, April 21, Dr. Sethu Raman, Brian Potter, Ryan Boyles
  • Presentation of Annual Report to SCO Advisory Panel, April 28, Raleigh
  • Presentation to Carl Tart, Director of Agricultural Research Stations, May 6, Raleigh, Dr. Sethu Raman, Devdutta S. Niyogi, Ryan Boyles
  • Presentation to Jane Patterson, Senior Advisor to the Governor for Science and Technology, May 11, Raleigh, Dr. Sethu Raman, Devdutta S. Niyogi, Ryan Boyles
  • Discussion of El Niño and NC Climate to Audubon Society, May 13, Goldsboro, Brian Potter
  • Visit to National Climatic Data Center, May 21, Asheville, Devdutta S. Niyogi, Brian Potter, Vinayak Parameshwara
  • Presentation to Chevron Drilling Technical Review Committee of the Coastal Management Division, May 21, Raleigh, Dr. Sethu Raman
  • Presentation to Sherol Bremen, North Carolina Petroleum Council, May 29, Raleigh, Dr. Sethu Raman, Devdutta S. Niyogi, Ryan Boyles


  • Dr. Peter Robinson, UNC-CH
  • Dr. A. Prabhu, Indian Institute of Sciences, Bangalore
  • Dr. Aswathanarayana, Indian Institute of Technology, Madras
  • Dr. U. C. Mohanty, Indian Institute of Technology, New Delhi
  • C. V. Singh, Indian Institute of Technology, New Delhi
  • Greg Fishel, WRAL-TV 5, Raleigh
  • Mike Helfert, Director, Southeast Regional Climate Center, SC State Climatologist
  • John White, NC Division of Air Quality
  • Walter Peel and Hal Teegarden, Dimon Inc.
  • Brian McFeaters, NC Emergency Management
  • John McHenry and Adel Hanna, NC Supercomputing Center
  • Sastry Pantula, Director of Graduate Programs, Statistics, NCSU
  • Connie Tucker, Raleigh Chamber of Commerce
  • Jay Fick and Glen Fernandez, Biological and Agricultural Engineering, NCSU
  • David Perry, Editor-in-Chief, University of North Carolina Press


  • Drought Mitigation Workshop, March 31, Columbia, SC, Dr. Sethu Raman, Devdutta S. Niyogi, Brian Potter
  • 1997 Nusbaum Symposium, April 1997, Raleigh, Dr. Sethu Raman

Temperature and Precipitation Anomalies

Departure from 30-Year Normals
February, March, April 1998


May 1998 Precipitation Departures from Normal
February 1998

June 1998 Precipitation Departures from Normal
March 1998

April 1998 Precipitation Departures from Normal
April 1998

February 1998 Temperature Departures from Normal
February 1998

March 1998 Temperature Departures from Normal
March 1998

April 1998 Temperature Departures from Normal
April 1998

Monthly Climate Data Requests

Monthly Data Request Totals
Click on graph to enlarge

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