Fall 2004

NCSU Seal North Carolina ClimateSCO Seal

A Newsletter of the State Climate Office of North Carolina

A Public Service Center for
Climate-Environment Interactions

Fall 2004

In This Issue...

Guest Contributor...

Ron Wall
North Carolina Division of Emergency Management

Ron Wall The State Climate Office has long been a valued member of the North Carolina State Emergency Response Team (SERT). Tasked in the North Carolina Emergency Operations Plan (NCEOP) to support the SERT during activation, the State Climate Office not only stands ready with climate data, but provides real-time scientific advice for the SERT's Staff Weather Officer as necessary. The State Climate Office is also tasked in the NCEOP as a member of the North Carolina Drought Management Advisory Council (DMAC).

Weather support is important to the SERT, and the North Carolina State Climatologist and his people have been consistently quick to offer their services no matter what the emergency. Dr. Sethu Raman has been present at many of the briefings presented to the Governor and his staff during hurricane emergencies and has offered clear insight regarding landfall effects on winds associated with Hurricane Bonnie in 1998, Hurricane Floyd in 1999 and Hurricane Isabel in 2003. A network of automated weather observing systems (known as NC ECONet) placed and maintained by the State Climate Office has given Emergency Management officials timely data that routinely enhances the quality of their decisions. Also, through the State Climate Office, upper-division and graduate students in meteorology at North Carolina State University have served as volunteer forecasters during SERT activations. While gaining valuable operational experience for themselves, their hard work allows around-the-clock support for the SERT and frees the Staff Weather Officer to provide tailored weather information to other SERT members.

As a critically important member of the Drought Management Advisory Council, the State Climate Office--particularly Associate State Climatologist Ryan Boyles--provides data to support decisions regarding drought declarations in North Carolina . Ryan has not only been quick to provide accurate and trenchant analyses of our recent drought situations, but has worked tirelessly with other DMAC members to develop an Internet presentation that describes drought and drought implications for the citizens of North Carolina.

Over the past six years, the State Climate Office has made unique contributions in emergency situations affecting North Carolina. In every instance related to the SERT and to Emergency Management at large, the singularly distinctive accomplishments of Dr. Raman, Mr. Boyles, and the entire staff of the State Climate Office have reflected great credit on themselves and the North Carolina State University . Because of their efforts, North Carolina Emergency Management is far more effective than it otherwise would be.

From the State Climatologist...

Summer research and outreach activities at the SCO were ambitious. Participating graduate students were: Mathew Simpson (air quality), Neil Jacobs (winter storm climatology), Trisha Palmer (flash flood forecasting), Maggie Puryear (evapotranspiration), Becky Eager (sea breeze circulations), and Aneela Qureshi (convection initiation). Undergraduate students were: Chris Holder (climate data analysis), Suzanne Schwab and Kate Hogan (AgNet data recovery). We welcome undergraduate students Megan Gentry, John Compton, Michael Diaz and Chris Holder joining this semester. Michael Azzolina, a graduate student, has also joined the SCO. We also welcome the 8th graders--Ashley Kirby, Carly Lippart, Cedric Broadhurst, and Rob Collins from Centennial Campus Middle School . Trisha Palmer graduated with a M.S. degree this past summer. Peter Childs left in September to join the National Weather Service, Atlanta . We welcome Aaron Sims who joined the SCO as Environmental Meteorologist on November 9. Aaron graduated with a M.S. degree in Atmospheric Sciences in 2001 from NCSU.

The North Carolina Climate Retrieval and Observation Network of the Southeast (NC CRONOS) Database had been of great help in disaster mitigation activities this year as many tropical storms tracked through North Carolina . Eight more evapotranspiration sensors were added to the weather network, bringing the total to 14. Two more automated weather stations are being installed this month near Mount Pisgah and in Plymouth in eastern NC bringing the total NC ECONet stations to 27. The goal is to deploy at least one ECONet station in each county of the state. The SCO continues to make available high-resolution environmental modeling forecasts to the public through our website.

At the service of North Carolina,

Signature of Sethu Raman
Sethu Raman
State Climatologist and Director

Relentless 2004 Hurricane Season Batters North Carolina
Contributed by Robb Ellis

Hurricane Those who know climatology of hurricanes in North Carolina weren't surprised by tropical systems affecting our state in 2004. Surprisingly, half of the 14 named storms that formed this year affected North Carolina. The parade of names flowed from late July into September. Many of the storms first affected Florida, Georgia or South Carolina, before impacting our state.

Alex (July 31 - August 6)
The first storm of the season gave North Carolinians a sneak peek of what was to come. The storm formed on the last day of July, off the South Carolina coast before heading NW towards the Outer Banks. While the storm never made direct landfall in our state, wind gusts as high as 102 mph were reported in Hatteras Village (the same area devastated by Hurricane Isabel last year). According to the National Hurricane Center, only one other hurricane (Ellen of 1973) reached major hurricane status farther north than Alex.

Bonnie (August 9 - August 12)
Bonnie made landfall along the gulf coast in early August before its remnants moved through our state and brought periods of heavy rainfall throughout North Carolina . Tornadoes and strong storms in advance of Bonnie's remnants were reported throughout the state.

Charley (August 9 - August 15)
A weakened category 1 Hurricane Charley made a second landfall near the North Carolina - South Carolina border after devastating parts of Florida as a category 4 hurricane. The storm moved north and northeast over the state on August 14, bringing heavy rains throughout the eastern part of the state. Heavy winds were reported along the coastal regions, mainly in the Cape Fear area.

Frances (August 25 - September 9)
Remnants from Hurricane Frances moved into the eastern area of the state on September 8. Rainfall amounts of 10-15 inches were common in the southern Appalachians. Frances caused flash flooding in the mountains, some wind damage, and tornadoes were spawned in the Sandhills and southwestern Piedmont. Flooding in the city of Asheville was severe and several businesses and houses were flooded.

Gaston (August 27 - September 1)
Tropical Storm Gaston made landfall north of Charleston, SC on August 29. The storm them moved northward into North Carolina as a tropical depression and slowly traversed the state. Before exiting the state Gaston dumped 4-6 inches of rainfall on many parts of the piedmont, Sandhills and the Triangle.

Ivan (September 2 - September 24)
Similar to Frances' track through North Carolina, Ivan danced around the western part of the state after making landfall along the gulf. The mountains bore the brunt of the heavy rainfall, with totals of 9 inches reported in some locations. Several tornadoes were also spawned in association with the system.

Jeanne (September 13 - September 28)
Heavy rains, flooding and severe weather reports accompanied the remnants of Hurricane Jeanne as that moved through the western part of North Carolina. Rainfall of 5 inches or more were reported in the mountains. Tornadoes and wind damage also occurred in the Sandhills and Triangle area.

SCO Develops NC Hurricane Climatology Tool
Contributed by Robb Ellis

Hurricane Climatology Tool The SCO has taken its database techniques previously used for the CRONOS database and created a new product for aiding in studying the climatology of hurricanes affecting North Carolina. The application uses Java technology, similar to our JET product, and incorporates a database containing all Atlantic tropical systems on record since 1851. The utility allows uers to perform powerful climatological searches for all storms that fit specific criteria, such as intensity, location, name or states affected. In addition to historical hurricane information, the utility also provides real-time data and plotting of current storms that are active within the Tropical Atlantic. Active storms can be plotted along side previous storms, allowing for quick comparisons between climatology and current conditions. This product will continue to be developed in the coming months, adding additional advanced features as more users provide input and feedback. Additional features include satellite imagery, overlay of CRONOS data, and radar imagery. This tool has been very useful in education and training of students.

Visit the NC Hurricane Climatology web site: http://climate.ncsu.edu/hurricanes/

NC CRONOS Database Quality Control

Summer interns Kate Horgan and Suzanne Schwab recently enhanced portions of the NC CRONOS Database. They employed a combination of Excel and Perl scripting to quality control and add pre- and post-1996 data to the AgNet stations. Some of this data goes back as far as 1978.

Hourly and daily data were ingested into CRONOS from outdated tripod stations; some data from recently deployed weather towers was also ingested that wasn't already part of the database. Kate and Suzanne completed quality control checks on conversions, overlapping data, and numbers being archived under the wrong parameter name. They were able to do this by comparing data already in the database against the old, static webpages used previously by the SCO. Using their knowledge of meteorology, they were able to identify the best values when overlapping data existed.

The addition and enhancement of observations increased the AgNet sites' data by about 50%. They are now in the process of updating CRONOS to reflect additional quality control changes. Their work, and the enhancements to CRONOS, allows researchers to get a better picture of NC climate.

Kate and Suzanne's work in this outreach and extension program was presented at the Third Annual Undergraduate Research Symposium on August 5, 2004.

Staff Changes

Peter Childs, Environmental Meteorologist, left our office for a job in Atlanta with the National Weather Service. Peter joined the SCO staff in June 2003 after earning a Master's Degree in Meteorology at NC State. While here, Peter spearheaded the development of a MM5 numerical modeling website while utilizing CRONOS data. His new position with the National Weather Service in Atlanta will allow him to continue building his modeling knowledge and skill set. We're sad to see Peter go, but we understand that it is a positive career move for him and wish him the best.

Aaron Sims Aaron Sims joined our staff as an Environmental Meteorologist on November 9, 2004. Aaron assists in NC ECONet management and in day-to-day operations of the AgNet observation stations. These activities involve installation and maintenance of 20 automated observation stations and the QA/QC of real-time data streams. Aaron also performs research using high resolution numerical modeling over NC to develop datasets that ingest AgNet/ECONet data for agricultural and environmental applications. Other efforts will be focused on continued development and improvement of the SCO real-time modeling system to provide the most accurate data and tools for the agricultural community.

Additional NC CRONOS Database Enhancements

The NC CRONOS Database continues to evolve and improve. CRONOS allows data retrieval from 219 automated weather stations in and around North Carolina. This winter, we plan to add data from Cooperative Observer (COOP) stations. COOP stations normally report daily max/min temperatures and precipitation amounts. Adding this new dataset will increase CRONOS' station resolution, and help researchers gleam a better picture of North Carolina climate.

CCMS Students

CCMS Students Four students from Centennial Campus Magnet Middle School (CCMS) recently began working on research projects at the State Climate Office. The students are: Ashley Kirby, Carly Lippart, Rob Collins, and Cedric Broadhurst. We welcome them here in our third year of partnership with CCMS. The students will be learning the scientific process and be exposed to scientific research. Next semester, they will present their project and findings at the CCMS Science Fair.

Recent Conditions

Map of Temperature Departures from Normal
Map of Precipitation Departures from Normal

The summer of 2004 was generally cool and wet across North Carolina. Below normal temperatures were seen through most of central NC, while coastal and mountain regions experienced near-normal temperatures. Precipitation was above-normal for most of the state, with the highest amounts in the central and northern coastal plain. Out of 110 years of observations, this was the 42nd coldest and the 23rd wettest summer on record.

Winter Climate Outlook

Provided by National Weather Service's Climate Prediction Center

Temperature Outlook

January 2005 through March 2005 Temperature Outlook

January 2005 - March 2005 Temperature Outlook
Precipitation Outlook

January 2005 through March 2005 Precipitation Outlook

January 2005 - March 2005 Precipitation Outlook

A = Probability Increase of Likelihood of Above Normal Conditions
B = Probability Increase of Likelihood of Below-Normal Conditions
EC = Equal Chances of Above-, Below-, and Near-Normal Conditions

A weak El Niño event is evolving in the tropical Pacific Ocean and is expected to persist through the early months of 2005. Cooler, wetter winters in North Carolina are generally associated with El Nino events. The NWS Climate Prediction Center's outlook for the upcoming winter suggests an increased chance of below normal temperatures, but little guidance for precipitation amounts. CPC uses a combination of statistical and dynamical models to produce seasonal climate outlooks.

Recent Activities and Visitors

Select Activities

  • 26th AMS Hurricanes and Tropical Meteorology Conference, Miami, FL, May 3, 2004, Sethu Raman
  • Presentations at Museum of Natural Sciences , Raleigh , May 14, 2004, Robb Ellis
  • Climate Change Panel Discussion, Musuem of Natural Sciences, Raleigh, May 26, 2004, Sethu Raman and Peter Robinson
  • Science House Workshop, Edenton , NC , June 7, 2004, Robb Ellis
  • Guest presentation on WUNC Public Radio, June 10, 2004, Peter Childs
  • Visit to Naval Research Laboratories, Washington, DC, June 14-16, 2004, Becky Eager, Sethu Raman
  • State Climate Office picnic, Lake Crabtree Park , June 18, 2004
  • Weather and Research Forecast (WRF) Model Meeting, Boulder, CO, June 28 - July 2, 3004, Peter Childs
  • Agricultural Research Station Meeting, Elizabeth City , NC, July 21-22, 2004. Sethu Raman, Ameenulla Syed, Peter Childs, and Mark Brooks.
  • 2004 Summer Undergraduate Research Symposium, Raleigh , August 5, 2004, Kate Horgan, Suzanne, Schwab, Megan Gentry
  • Presentation to Coastal Management Commission, Raleigh , August 25, 2004, Ryan Boyles, Peter Childs
  • Presentation on Severe Weather to Centennial Campus Middle School , Raleigh , September 8, 2004, Ryan Boyles
  • Presentation to Forestville Elementary, Knightdale, September 20, 2004, Ryan Boyles
  • Coastal Federation Meeting, Morehead City , NC , October 1, 2004, Sethu Raman
  • Presentation to NC Electric Membership Corporation, Raleigh , October 7, 2004, Sethu Raman and Ryan Boyles
  • Presentation at NC Irrigation Society Meeting, Raleigh , November 3, 2004, Sethu Raman
  • NC Emergency Management Natural Disasters workshop, Raleigh , November 4-5, 2004, Sethu Raman, Ryan Boyles
  • Presentation to NCSU Retired Faculty Association, Raleigh, November 17, 2004, Ryan Boyles


  • Roger Crickenburger, NC Agricultural Research Service, July 9, 2004
  • Winston Hagler, NC Agricultural Research Service, July 13, 2004
  • EnviroTech Camp students, July 19, 2004
  • George Bridgers, Wyat Appel, NC Division of Air Quality, July 29, 2004
  • Tom Fransen, Charles Theobald, NC Division of Water Resources, August 4, 2004
  • Paul Butler, NC Southeast Economic Development, August 16, 2004
  • Steve Harned, Atlantic States Weather, Inc. August 20, 2004
  • Bob Holman , NC Department of Transportation, August 23, 2004
  • Gary Stephenson, News14 Carolina , August 31, 2004
  • Dr. Lane Tredway, NCSU Plant Pathology, September 21, 2004
  • Darin Figurskey, National Weather Service, November 12, 2004
  • Bill Watson, Terry Ryan, NC Electric Membership Corporation, November 17, 2004
  • Ted Yamada, YSA, Inc., Santa Fe, NM, December 7, 2004

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