Spring 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

Spring 2004

In This Issue...

Guest Contributor...

Dr. R. E. Fornes
Associate Dean for Research
College of Physical and Mathematical Sciences

About a decade ago the State Climate Office (SCO) and faculty and students in atmospheric sciences in the Department of Marine, Earth and Atmospheric ciences (MEAS), along with the Raleigh Forecast Office of the National Weather Service (NWS), moved into the newly constructed Research III Building on Centennial Campus. The various groups co-located in the building offered unique opportunities for collaborations in climate and weather related research, education and service to the public. Those of us involved in negotiations with the university to bring the groups together had high expectations that such an arrangement would be highly beneficial to the missions of the department and university. Upon reflection, our expectations have been greatly exceeded.

Perhaps the most marked advancement over the past decade in any of those programs has occurred in the SCO. Under the leadership of Professor Sethu Raman, his associate Ryan Boyles and other team members, the SCO has drawn on previous research and an extensive climate and weather related database to address important questions related to local and regional climate trends. The need for a highly expanded database was quickly identified and implementation plans were begun to develop such a network, so that not only new types of measurements could be made but also so that subtle differences in weather-related phenomena could be more accurately determined and predicted. Just those small differences in weather can have major impacts in numerous ways, and the SCO is addressing this challenge by providing more accurate and real time information not previously available to the public. One only has to surf the SCO Website to appreciate the wealth of information now readily accessible at one's fingertips.

The SCO has attracted a steady stream of students, both graduate and undergraduate, participating in research, data collection and analysis and interfacing with the public. Additionally, the SCO has worked closely with students in k-12, inspiring many to explore more fully their potential in science and mathematics. Indeed, the SCO has served as a model program that serves all three primary missions of NCSU-education, research and public service. The team is to be highly commended for its leadership and vision. All of us look forward to its continued success.

A Note from the State Climatologist

I hope everyone is enjoying the nice spring weather of North Carolina. I have much to share in this newsletter. Mark Brooks has joined as a full time Meteorologist from January 1, 2004. He is providing valuable service on web and database development and is also assisting our college with web development.

Ryan Boyles is a recipient of the 2004 Alumni Outstanding Extension and Outreach Award and is also the recipient of an additional award given only to three extension professionals every year. I want to congratulate him on receiving this prestigious award for his outstanding contributions to the State Climate Office of NC and through this organization to the North Carolina citizens. Ameen Syed was nominated for an Award of Excellence for his outstanding contributions in the development of the NC ECONet.

We are getting ready for a busy summer and plan to recruit two undergraduate students in addition to four graduate students already working in the SCO. These students will be researching air quality, historical AgNet data analysis, and developing new data sets for academic and pubic use.

The SCO advisory board met on March 22, 2004. Members of the board are Steve Harned, National Weather Service (Chair), Katie Perry, NCSU, John Fountain, NCSU, Greg Fishel, WRAL, Ken Taylor, NC Emergency Management, Terry Ryan, NC Electric Membership Corporation, Steve Leath, NCSU, and Karen Siderelis, USGS. Steve Harned has recently stepped down as the chair of the SCO Advisory Board. We thank him for his valuable contributions during the past eight years.

Additional evapotranspiration sensors are being installed across North Carolina in ECONet sites this year bringing the total to twelve under the direction of Ameen Syed, NC ECONet Manager. There has been a great demand for data through NC CRONOS (North Carolina Climate Retrieval and Observing Network of the Southeast) made public on September 12, 2003. Improvements are being made to this database continuously and the database constantly updated.

SCO is running a high-resolution regional scale weather model in real time for use in applications such as agriculture, air quality and emergency response. This modeling system developed and operated by Peter Childs uses advanced technological and data analysis procedures. Information on this topic and others are provided in this newsletter.

We are looking forward to another productive summer in the State Climate Office.

At the service of North Carolina,

Signature of Sethu Raman
Sethu Raman
State Climatologist and Director

SCO implements a high resolution environmental prediction model
Contributed by Peter Childs

Model Temperatures over NC The State Climate Office of North Carolina has recently developed a high-resolution numerical weather prediction model. The model is run in real-time, 4 times per day out to 48 hours. Based on a meteorological research model (MM5), our environmental modeling system has several unique features. It utilizes high-resolution sea surface temperature data and the State Climate Office NC ECONet observations. The high-resolution (12 km) model domain is over the Carolinas. The SCO modeling system performs well with regard to predicting surface wind patterns, surface temperature variation and precipitation distribution.

Model Precipitation over NC The environmental model data can be accessed through our website, http://climate.ncsu.edu. Numerous weather fields are shown, including surface wind patterns, temperatures, relative humidity, and many more. These fields can easily be tailored to user specific thresholds. Text tables can be generated upon request with various weather variables available. The model is constantly improved in an effort to provide the most accurate environmental forecasts for the agricultural community.

Hurricane Isabel Sweeps Through NC
Contributed by Peter Childs

Hurricane Isabel was a classic Cape Verde hurricane that developed in the far eastern Atlantic and made landfall in North Carolina as a Category 2 hurricane on September 18 th , 2003. Isabel was the first Atlantic storm to strengthen into a Category 5 hurricane since Hurricane Mitch achieved this intensity in 1998. Moreover, Isabel was the first tropical system to attain hurricane intensity east of 40 W and hit the United States coastline since Hurricane Donna hit Florida in 1960. Record setting storm surge flooding across parts of eastern North Carolina and Virginia was observed as Isabel made landfall. Across the Outer Banks of North Carolina, winds gusted to greater than 110 mph, and a new inlet was created between Hatteras Village and Frisco. Extensive structural damage was reported across much of Dare County, North Carolina, where damage estimates exceeded 1 billion dollars. Total damage estimates from Isabel are likely to exceed 4 billion dollars. Thiry-eight deaths were attributed to Isabel from North Carolina to New York State.

The State Climate Office of North Carolina is studying the ability of a high-resolution (5 km) mesoscale model (MM5) to simulate Hurricane Isabel as the storm made landfall over eastern North Carolina in September 2003. In addition to standard meteorological boundary conditions ingested into the MM5, real-time high-resolution (1.44 km) Sea Surface Temperature (SST) data was prescribed to more completely define the SST field as Isabel approached North Carolina. Research on the ability of the SCO regional modeling system to simulate the track of Hurricane Isabel is in progress at the State Climate office.

Isabel Cloud Cover Forecast

Cloud cover forecast for September 18, 2003.
Color graphics are available on the SCO website.
Isabel Wind Speed and Direction Forecast

10m wind speed and direction forecast for September 18, 2003.
Color graphics are available on the SCO website.

Isabel Wind Speed and Direction Forecast

Pressure and precipitation forecast for September 18, 2003.
Color graphics are available on the SCO website.

SCO Provides Meteorological Services to the US EPA to Improve Air Quality Science
Contributed by MAtt Simpson

The State Climate Office is currently involved in air quality research with the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Understanding the role meteorology plays in air quality issues is the main goal of this research. As part of this research, SCO is estimating mixing heights for numerous cities in the United States and Canada including Raleigh, NC using the AERMET model. With the estimated mixing heights, local Climatology of mixing heights are developed to show the diurnal and seasonal variations occurring in each city. Quantifying the difference in mixing heights from city to city due to changes in topography, proximity to oceans, and latitude is essential for accurate air quality estimation. The mixing height climatologies are useful in assessing the transport and diffusion of pollutants present in these urban areas. Air quality issues for Raleigh and the surrounding areas are also of concern for the EPA and the SCO. The SCO is currently analyzing pollution data from the Car related Occupational PM Exposure to Patrolmen (COPP) study that occurred during the summer of 2001. Objectives of the COPP study include understanding the magnitude of air pollution concentrations that patrolmen are exposed to and what role meteorology plays in the formation of high air pollution concentrations. Using geographical information systems (GIS), the SCO is researching how pollution concentrations vary with time and location in Wake County. A dispersion model will also be used along with the pollution measurements to locate which regions of Wake County experience the highest pollution concentrations during the summer months.

Awards and Honors

Ryan Boyles Ryan Boyles, Associate Climatologist and Operations Coordinator received the 2004 Alumni Outstanding Extension and Outreach Award. This award was given for his valuable contributions in data services, liaison with state agencies, collaboration with NWS on data transfer and on enhanced climate outlook products, development of the NC CRONOS database, education extension activities, student mentoring, extension-related research, and for extensive community interaction. His nomination letter states "Ryan Boyles is a selfless, dedicated, always helpful, knowledgeable, and sincere extension scientist and an extremely valuable colleague in the State Climate Office of North Carolina". Congratulations to Ryan for this prestigious award.

Ameenulla Syed Ameenulla Syed, Instrumentation Meteorologist and Manager of the NC ECONet, was recently nominated by his peers at the State Climate Office for a College Award of Excellence. His nomination states:

"Through harsh winter storms and the summer heat, Ameen will work as many hours as needed to ensure accurate weather information from the ECONet. But beyond his dedication and intelligence, his peaceful demeanor brings comfort to all he encounters. Ameen is regularly faced with stressful situations, as most operational organizations are. Yet he is always patient and reassuring - an invaluable gift to staff and students in the SCO who have faced the pressure of growth and high expectations that come with success."

Congratulations to Ameen for his nomination and excellence as a member of the State Climate Office of North Carolina and NC State University.

CCMS Students Five students from Centennial Campus Magnet Middle School (CCMS) recently presented the results of their research projects as interns with the State Climate Office at the Annual Magnet Schools of America Conference in Raleigh. Students presented papers that addressed questions such as: "How does the Gulf Stream impact NC weather?", "Is spring weather a good predictor of summer weather?" and "Are urban areas in NC warmer than rural areas?" Congratulations to these students for their successful research efforts. This is the second year of this partnership with the CCMS. Photo: CCMMS students (from left to right) are Jamie Bottomley, Ana Estrada, Kellie Dean, Alex Pherribo, and Ben Reid.

Recent Conditions

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

Temperatures from October 2003 through March 2004 were near normal for most of North Carolina, with warmer temperatures in the Southern Mountains. Precipitation has been below normal for most of the State, with the driest areas in the southwestern Piedmont near Charlotte.

Winter Climate Outlook

Provided by National Weather Service's Climate Prediction Center

Temperature Outlook

June 2004 through August 2004 Temperature Outlook

June 2004 - August 2004 Temperature Outlook
Precipitation Outlook

June 2004 through August 2004 Precipitation Outlook

June 2004 - August 2004 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

With no El Niño (warm) or La Niña (cool) event in the tropical Pacific Ocean, the forecast for the upcoming summer does not provide much insight for the Carolinas. Outlooks from the NWS Climate Prediction Center depict equal chances of above-normal, near-normal, and below-normal precipitation. However, CPC statistical tools and models suggest an increased probability of warmer temperatures through the southern United States.

Recent Activities and Visitors

Select Activities

  • NC Drought Management Advisory Committee Meeting, Raleigh, October 16, 2003, Ryan Boyles
  • Coastal Climatology Workshop, Charleston, SC, October 20-22, 2003, Peter Childs
  • NC Climate Change Education Partners Meeting, NC Museum of Natural Sciences, Raleigh, October 22, 2003, Ryan Boyles
  • NC Chronic Rainfall 605 Working Group, October 28, 2003, Ryan Boyles
  • Presentation at NC Irrigation Society Conference, Raleigh, November 5, 2003, Ryan Boyles
  • NC Hazard Mitigation Advisory Group Meeting, Chapel Hill, November 13, 2003, Ryan Boyles
  • Presentation for NC GIS Day Celebration, Raleigh, November 19, 2003, Ryan Boyles
  • NC Chronic Rainfall 605 Working Group, November 24, 2003, Ryan Boyles
  • Presentation to North Raleigh Lions Club, December 1, 2003, Sethu Raman
  • American Geophysical Union Meeting, San Francisco, CA, December 5-10, Sethu Raman
  • Visit to Naval Research Laboratory, Monterrey, CA, December 11-12, 2003, Sethu Raman
  • Presentation to DataStreme Educators, Raleigh, December 13, 2003, Ryan Boyles
  • American Meteorological Society Annual Meeting, Seattle, WA, January 11-15, 2004, Sethu Raman, Neil Jacobs
  • NC Chronic Rainfall 605 Working Group, January 14, 2004, Ryan Boyles
  • NC Hazard Mitigation Advisory Group Meeting, Chapel Hill, January 16, 2004, Ryan Boyles
  • Presentation to DataStreme Educators, Raleigh, January 17, 2004, Ryan Boyles
  • NC Hazard Mitigation Advisory Group Meeting, Chapel Hill, January 23, 2004, Ryan Boyles
  • Annual NC Groundhog Day Celebration, Museum of Natural Sciences, Raleigh, February 2, 2004, Ryan Boyles, Ameenulla Syed
  • Presentation to Central NC Chapter of the American Meteorological Society, RTP, February 19, 2004, Ryan Boyles, Peter Childs
  • INTROMET Conference, Hyderabad, India, February 23-28, 2004, Sethu Raman
  • NC Hazard Mitigation Advisory meetings, Raleigh, March 19-30, 2004, Ryan Boyles, Robb Ellis, Matt Simpson, Peter Childs, Mark Brooks, Sethu Raman
  • SCO Advisory Board Meeting, Raleigh, March 22, 2004
  • Presentation on Climate Change for NC Mercury and CO2 Workshop, April 19, 2004, Ryan Boyles
  • Magnet Schools of America Conference, Raleigh, April 20, 2004, Ryan Boyles, Sethu Raman, CCMS Interns
  • Presentation to Washington Golden K Club, Washington, NC, April 21, 2004, Ryan Boyles
  • Presentation to NC DENR Public Water Supply, Raleigh, April 22, 2004, Ryan Boyles
  • Presentations for Earth Day Celebration at Lacy Elementary, Raleigh, April 23, 2004, Becky Eager
  • Presentations for Earth Day at Washington Elementary, Raleigh, April 23, 2004, Ryan Boyles


  • Brian Nelson, John Bates, National Climatic Data Center, Asheville, October 15, 2003
  • Jan Chvosta, NCSU Agriculture and Resource Economics, October 27, 2003
  • Randy Alliss, TASC Corporation, December 10, 2003
  • Sylvia Dake, NCSU MALS Student, December 12, 2003
  • News14 Carolina, Raleigh, January 12, 2004
  • WTVD NewsChannel 11, Durham, January 12, 2004
  • Brian Eder, US EPA/NOAA, RTP, February 5, 2004
  • Carolyn and Maggie Hunt, Raleigh, Mebane, February 13, 2004
  • Chip Conrad, UNC-CH Geography, February 26, 2004
  • Tim Owen, Glen Rutledge, National Climatic Data Center, Asheville, March 3, 2004
  • News14 Carolina, Raleigh, March 22, 2004

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