Spring 2000

NCSU Seal North Carolina ClimateSCO Seal

A Newsletter of the State Climate Office of North Carolina

A Public Service Center for
Climate-Environment Interactions
Ryan Boyles, Editor

Volume 4 | Number 1 | Spring 2000

In This Issue...

A Message from Jane Patterson

Senior Advisor to the Governor for Science and Technology

Jane Patterson It is a pleasure to write a message for this Newsletter, NC Climate, published by the State Climate Office of North Carolina (SCO). I have known about this Public Service Center since May 1997. Its mission is to disseminate the weather and climate information to the citizens of North Carolina and to act in an advisory capacity to several state agencies dealing with climate related issues. Prominent among them is Emergency Management, Agriculture, Air Quality, Water Quality, Drought Mitigation, Power Generation, Transportation, Tourism, Public Health and Economic Development.

North Carolina Board of Science and Technology endorsed the mission and the activities of the SCO in its Board meeting in June 1997. We are glad that he SCO took part in all the eight regional conferences organized as part of Vision 2030 in 1999 and 2000. State Climatologist, Dr. Sethu Raman and his staff actively participated in the emergency operations during the 1998 Hurricane Bonnie and during the 1999 Hurricanes Dennis and Floyd assisting the NC Emergency Management personnel. This included meteorological support before the hurricanes made land fall and during rescue operations. SCO also provided wind information for efficient mosquito spray operations from their agricultural automated weather station network.

One of the initiatives that the State Climate Office is currently pursuing is the deployment of the NC ECO Net (North Carolina Environmental and Climate Observing automated weather stations in each of the 100 counties of NC connected through an Internet based system. The weather and climate information will be made available in real-time to the farmers for efficient crop management, and to the state agencies that deal Network) across the state. This network will consist of with emergency management operations, air quality monitoring, drought mitigation, public health, economic development, and tourism to name a few. The data will be archived for future use in climatological predictions of El Niño / La Niña related severe weather and drought and for studying climate change in North Carolina. State Climate Office estimates that such a network will save the farmers, industries, and the state government each year a total of about $91 million through better crop and power management, increased tourism, and economic development. In other words, it can foster Smart Growth in North Carolina by providing vital information that will help in managing our resources efficiently and preserving the beautiful natural environment of North Carolina.

Jane S. Patterson
Director, NC Board of Science and Technology

From the State Climatologist...

Since the last newsletter, we have experienced one of the biggest snowfall events in central NC. More information on this event can be found on Page 2. As indicated by Ms. Jane Patterson in her message, we participated in all the regional Vision 2030 meetings across NC. A model of the NC ECO Net station and the type of services we provide to the state were prominently displayed in each meeting.

Three undergraduate students working in the State Climate Office, Kettyah Chhak, Aaron Pratt, and Wendy Sellers, participated in the NCSU 9th Undergraduate Symposium by presenting papers on temperature, rainfall, and frost climatology changes in NC during the past 50 years.

The SCO participated in the first annual statewide Ground Hog Day organized through the NC Museum of Natural Sciences. This event involved K-12 classes from almost every county in North Carolina. The 2000 Groundhog Day was a huge success, and plans are already being made for February 2, 2001.

As we approach the summer and another hurricane season, there is increasing concern about the predicted tropical storm activity. Professor Gray's statistical forecast calls for slightly above normal number of hurricanes in Northern Atlantic. However, disappearance of the La Niña (cool sea surface temperatures) in the Pacific should help in reducing the number of hurricanes in the Atlantic. But it takes only one intense hurricane to cause horrible damage, and it can happen even in a below normal year! The SCO will continue to assist NC Emergency Management Division in its operations during the hurricane season.

At the service of North Carolina,

Sethu Raman's Signature
Sethu Raman
State Climatologist of North Carolina
Professor of Atmospheric and Marine Sciences

Real-time Agnet Data Useful during Hurricane Floyd

As part of our continuing cooperation with NC Division of Emergency Management, surface observations from the Agricultural Weather Network were made available in real-time during the approach of Hurricane Floyd. These automated stations gave emergency managers immediate access to critical weather data before and during Floyd's passage through eastern NC. Data was provided during the storm's aftermath to assist with rescues, clean up, and insect spraying. The AgNet, which is the backbone for the proposed NC ECO Net, demonstrated the incredible value of real-time weather data, and its ability to help protect life and property. http://climate.ncsu.edu/econet/

2000 Hurricane Outlook

Dr. William Gray, a renowned hurricane expert at Colorado State University, and his team of forecasters have predicted that the 2000 tropical storm season will be "moderate" with 11 named storms, seven hurricanes and three intense hurricanes.

Although the cool event in the Pacific (La Niña) has diminished, a strong Atlantic thermohaline circulation suggests 2000 will be more active than the long term average, but not as active as 1995-1999. The years 1995-1999 were the most-active five consecutive years of hurricane activity on record in the Atlantic Basin, yielding 65 named storms, 41 hurricanes and 20 major hurricanes.

Based on a study of storms from 1886 and 1996, a tropical storm passes through NC about every year and makes landfall in North Carolina once every 4 years. Between 1996 and 1999, North Carolina was directly hit by 6 tropical storms, and affected by several others.

The Gray Forecast team, as well as other hurricane experts, believe that we are entering a period of increased tropical storm activity, similar to the 1930-1960 period.

Let it Snow! Patterns of Snow in NC and the 2000 Blizzard
Contributed by Bebhinn Walsh and Andrea Hampton,
Undergraduate Students, Department of Marine, Earth, and Atmospheric Sciences

Satellite Image of January 2000 Snowstorm Dr. Gary Lackmann and two undergraduate students from the Department of Marine, Earth, and Atmospheric Sciences have recently completed a study on historical scenarios that lead to significant snowfall in central North Carolina. Looking at a period from 1950 to 1993, Bebhinn Walsh and Andrea Hampton analyzed the large-scale climatic signals that produce snowfall (>4 inches) in Raleigh, NC. Two-day snowfall totals were taken into account to allow for an event that started and ended on consecutive days. A total of 23 events were collectively analyzed.

Composite analysis of the many events shows that a strong high pressures system at mid-levels (500 mb) is present over Alaska and the Yukon Territory. This signal is evident three days in advance of a storm. This high-pressure ridge is an important feature in transporting cold air into the southeast.

The pressure composites also show a weak trough in the lower southwestern corner of the US. This trough begins to split into two separate troughs with the weaker trough to the West and a more intense trough to the east. The eastern trough is associated with the development of a precursor cyclone. The cyclone moves northeast along the coast prior to the snow event. The composites also exhibit that the western trough intensifies and is associated with the second cyclone that develops in the Gulf of Mexico. The second Low, that moves across the Florida peninsula and then parallels the East Coast, produces the significant snowfall for NC.

The Blizzard of January 25, 2000 that surprised many in North Carolina had a similar signature. Definition of this pattern will be useful in predicting future heavy snow events.

For more information, please visit this project on the web at: http://www4.ncsu.edu/~bawalsh

North Carolina Environment & Climate Observing Network (NC ECO Net)

The North Carolina Environment & Climate Observing Network (NC ECO Net) is a proposed network that will combine existing weather and environmental observing networks in North Carolina to produce enhanced products and analysis provided by continuous surface monitoring. The NC ECO Net will have at least one weather observation station in every North Carolina county providing continuous weather and climate information. Data from the NC ECO Net will save lives, as well as save millions of dollars every year for North Carolina taxpayers, farmers, and businesses. It will help us to manage our natural resources, protect our environment, reduce energy consumption, educate the future generation of citizens, and provide valuable contribution to a variety of applications involving fields ranging from agriculture to public health to severe weather.

In its full capacity, the proposed NC ECO Net would be a state-of-the-art network of more than 100 weather and environmental observing stations across North Carolina with a minimum of one in each county. This network will use the North Carolina Information Highway to provide maximum benefits o the educational institutions of North Carolina as well. This will be achieved by integrating and upgrading the 85 existing observation sites (17 through the State Climate Office / NCSU, 25 from the National Weather Service, 25 from NC Division of Aviation, and 18 from the Forest Services). To complete the network, the State Climate Office proposes to establish observation stations in the 39 counties that currently do not have an automated weather station. Through NC ECO Net, the State of North Carolina will achieve its objective of a weather station in each and every county.

Citizens of North Carolina will realize enormous benefits thanks to the NC ECO Net. In addition to providing real-time information to everyone on wind, temperature, humidity, precipitation, and soil moisture, NC ECO Net will provide valuable assistance as shown below.

Application How will ECONet help? Money NC ECO Net Will Save
Crop Management Continuous and accurate monitoring of rainfall, soil moisture, and surface weather conditions. $4 million per year
Pest Management Reliable, county-scale information on weather and climate for industrial establishment and/or relocation. $14.4 million per year
Drought Forecast & Mitigation Continuous and accurate monitoring of rainfall, soil moisture, and surface weather conditions. $25 million every drought year
County Economic Development Reliable, county-scale information on weather and climate for industrial establishment and/or relocation. $1 to 2 million in new tax revenue for the state
Public Safety and Emergency Management Continuous information for planning, scheduling, relocation, and distribution of state, federal, and private resources during emergency situations Save lives and $10 million per year
Energy Planning Accurate information on short and long term weather forecasts for estimating and handling energy requirements $12 million per year
Tourism Increased tourism and improved planning through accurate weather information from beaches to mountains $10 million per year

Additionally, the NC ECO Net will assist various state departments by providing a continuous, dedicated, and accurate means for: Data Warehousing, Agriculture and Consumer Services allocation, Land and air transport decisions, Environmental and Water Resources Management, Insurance and Disaster Assessment, State Planning, Community Resource Information, Watershed Management, Water Supply Protection, Information for FEMA, Land Resource Development, Water Quality Assessment, Education and Training of K-12 and college students. Greater efficiency and accuracy in these areas could save the state at least $25 million per year.

Current and Proposed Monitoring Sites

Map of AgNet Station Currently Operated by SCO
Stations currently operated by the State Climate Office as part of the Agricultural Weather Network (AgNet).

Map of Stations Operated by AgNet and Other Agencies
Phase I: Integrate data from stations operated by other state and federal agencies, such as Forest Services, National Weather Service, and the NC Division of Aviation.

Map of Proposed Stations, and Those Operated by Agnet and Other Agencies
Phase II: In counties without monitoring sites, place new stations to fill gaps and ensure at least one station per county.

Seasonal Departures from 30-year Average (1961-1990)
Based on Preliminary Data

Click on any map to view a larger image

Precipitation Departure
(in inches)

Autumn 1999 Precipitation Departures from Normal
Autumn 1999

Winter 2000 Precipitation Departures from Normal
Winter 2000
Temperature Departure
(in ° Fahrenheit)

Autumn 1999 Temperature Departures from Normal
Summer 1999

Winter 2000 Temperature Departures from Normal
Winter 2000

Seasonal Outlook

Climate Outlook

A = Above Normal
B = Below Normal
CL = Climatology

Outlook provided by the NOAA Climate Prediction Center ( http://www.cpc.noaa.gov )

Recent Activities


  • National Climate Services Business Rules Meeting, Baton Rouge, LA, Ryan Boyles, October 25-27, 1999
  • NCSU Extension Showcase of Excellence, Ameenulla Syed, Vinayak Parameshwara, Ryan Boyles, November 17, 1999
  • SCO Advisory Committee Meeting, December 9, 1999
  • Presentation to Duke Energy, Sethu Raman, Ryan Boyles, December 14, 1999
  • WRAL-TV interview on unusually warm weather, Sethu Raman, Ryan Boyles, January 10, 2000
  • NC Health Directors Conference, Devdutta S. Niyogi, January 20, 2000
  • Statewide Groundhog Day Activities, NC Museum of Natural Sciences, Ryan Boyles, Jennifer Kehoe, Peter Robinson, February 2, 2000
  • National Weather Service Meeting on Hurricane Floyd, Conway, SC, Devdutta S. Niyogi, Ameenulla Syed, Robert Gilliam, February 2, 2000
  • Discovery Channel/Dateline NBC Video Interview, Ryan Boyles, February 15, 2000
  • Vision2030 Conferences, Asheville, Wrightsville Beach, Greenville, Charlotte, Winston-Salem, Elizabeth City, RTP, Sethu Raman, Devdutta S. Niyogi, Ameenulla Syed, Ryan Boyles, February – March 2000
  • Meeting with Dr. Raj Reddy, Co-Chair, PresidentÂ’s Committee on Information Technology, Professor, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA, Sethu Raman, March 23, 2000
  • NCSU Undergraduate Research Symposium, Kettyah Chhak, Aaron Pratt, Wendy Sellers, April 27, 2000
  • Presentation to Groundhog Day winners, Ryan Boyles, Jennifer Kehoe, April 28, 2000
  • 12th Conference on Applied Climatology & 15th Conference on Probability and Statistics in the Atmospheric Sciences, Asheville, NC, Sethu Raman, Devdutta S. Niyogi, Ryan Boyles, Jennifer Kehoe, Robert Gilliam, Brian Potter, May 8-11, 2000


  • Amanda Clarke, Climatologist, Southeast Regional Climate Center, Columbia, SC, October 14, 1999
  • United State Department of Agriculture visitors, November 3, 1999
  • Falls Road Baptist Church School, Rebecca Marks, Teacher, 33 students from Rocky Mount, NC, December 6, 1999
  • Rocky Hyder, Henderson County Emergency Mgmt. Coordinator, December 15, 1999
  • David L. Hayes, Distinctive Automated Flood Warning System Designs, December 15, 1999
  • American Meteorological Society, NCSU Student Chapter, February 11, 2000
  • Dr. Daniel Soloman, Interim Dean, College of Physical and Mathematical Sciences, March 28, 2000
  • Dr. Johnny Wynne, Director, NC Agricultural Research Service, March 30, 2000
  • Muldova Emergency Managers, April 2000
  • Indian Agricultural Team: Sathi Nair, Shirajirao Deshmaukl, Golalakrishnan Subraaraai, Ajeya Kallam, V. Ragunathan, Ikbal R. Chowdhury, May 3, 2000

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