Spring 2005

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 2005

In This Issue...

Guest Contributor...

Woody Yonts
Chairman of the N.C. Drought Management Advisory Council

Woody Yonts I remember reading in a publication on weather and climate many years ago that North Carolina, being a humid area, does not experience severe droughts, such as may occur at times in areas of the arid mid-western states. During that time, nearly all summers began with dry weather and a summer beginning with a lack of rainfall was regarded as a time of drought. One of the earlier difficult droughts for most of the state occurred in the 1950's. The drought was ended by a number of hurricanes. This drought had a major role in introducing agriculture irrigation to farmers and reservoirs to communities as a supplement for precipitation and an additional water supply during extended periods of dry weather.

During the 1980's, the NC Division of Water Resources convened a drought committee that included several federal agencies, state agencies, local governments and the State Climatologist. Drought Advisory Bulletins were issued to provide information and advice to water supply utilities and industry as to developing drought conditions.

In 1994, a Drought Response Plan was added to the State Emergency Operations Plan. The primary purpose of the plan was to facilitate coordination between various agencies through a Drought Monitoring Council (DMC) that included members associated with water resources, climatology, agriculture, public health, and emergency management. The DMC would routinely monitor the climate and other drought related variables and activate the Drought Response Plan.

The DMC was extremely active during the 2002 statewide drought, a time when 246 water systems, serving about four million people, were calling for some level of water use restrictions. Meetings were at least every month; special task forces were called into action to make specific assessments, and a time most important for the DMC to provide consistent and accurate information to the people to help reduce the harmful effects of drought. The 2002 drought, believed to be the worst drought of record for many areas of the state, was pronounced by the DMC as being over in May of 2003.

The Drought Monitoring Council did an outstanding job of monitoring and coordinating drought responses in 2002 and built up more public awareness of its functions and its effectiveness. The General Assembly in 2003 recognized the DMC's leadership and performance by giving it an official statutory base and by changing its name to the Drought Management Advisory Council (DMAC), reflecting the broader role of the Council, which, goes beyond monitoring of drought conditions.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the State Climate Office (SCO) for their outstanding participation on the Council. They organized and sponsored a statewide drought conference in the summer of 2002. Information presented engaged the news media in attendance and helped local water systems understand the importance of working with their local media outlets. The SCO also represents the DMC in helping the US Drought Monitor to do a better job in the weekly depicting of drought in North Carolina . SCO continues to make a tremendous contribution to the Council's efforts to provide leadership, education, and advocacy for the responsible stewardship of our water resources. They are number one in working to provide excellent climatic service that is critical to drought monitoring, water resource planning, and water supply management in North Carolina.

From the State Climatologist...

After one of the coldest winters, it is great to welcome the spring season. In this newsletter, we provide information on research performed by CCMS eighth grade students, and undergraduate and graduate students. Ashley Kirby, Carly Lippart, Rob Collis, and Cedrick Broadhurst were the 8 th graders working in the SCO as interns. Ryan Boyles is the primary advisor who worked with them every week. One of their projects won regional award for the best work and qualified them for the state competition held on March 18. It is a rewarding experience and we plan on continuing this collaboration in future.

Several graduate students working in the SCO expect to graduate this spring and summer. They are Neil Jacobs with a Ph.D. and Rebecca Eager, Margaret Puryear, and Aneela Qureshi with M.S. degrees.

Undergraduate students, Kate Horgan, Suzanne Schwab, and Robb Ellis are working in the SCO this semester. Robb and Suzanne plan to work in the SCO this summer. Kate is a recipient of a fellowship at the University of Oklahoma under the NSF funded Research Experience for Undergraduates program.

Students and staff from the SCO submitted ten abstracts of scientific papers for presentation at the American Meteorological Society 15th Conference on Applied Climatology and 13 th Symposium on Meteorological Observations and instrumentation to be held in Savannah, GA , and all have been accepted.

Greg Fishel, Chief Meteorologist, WRAL will be the new SCO Advisory Board Chair. Annual meeting of the board is scheduled for May 18, 2005.

We expect to recruit additional meteorologists and students this summer to perform research and outreach on several projects. We are looking forward to another productive summer in the State Climate Office.

At the service of North Carolina,

Sethu Raman's Signature
Sethu Raman
State Climatologist and Director

Environmental Modeling
Contributed by Aaron Sims

The State Climate Office of North Carolina has continued development of its real-time weather prediction tools. Improved physics and initialization provides updated modeling capability as our numerical models now incorporate NC ECONet data and high resolution sea-surface temperature estimates from the NOAA's CoastWatch service. Forecasts are generated twice daily to provide real-time information in addition to datasets for use in research. Many weather related parameters are available including near-surface temperature, rainfall, wind fields, surface fluxes, and cloud prediction. Additional products are available and can be custom tailored to users' needs.

Upcoming projects include the development of real-time model statistics and evaluation of performance as well as advanced products that utilize observations from the NC CRONOS database. We anticipate debuting a new web interface for display and dissemination of model derived products this spring. Other opportunities include development of environmental and agricultural applications using modeling capabilities and real-time observations. The environmental model data can be accessed through our website. We look forward to continuing to provide these products and services.

Map of Sea Surface Temperatures
The complex structure of the Gulf Stream off the eastern coast of the U.S. is depicted in this high resolution (1.44km) sea surface temperature composite. Temperatures are shown in degrees Celsius. These data are ingested into the model during initialization.
Map of Cloud Cover Forecast
A resulting cloud forecast image from the State Climate Office advanced 12km forecast model. This image depicts clouds from an approaching system from the west, with 30 to 50% sky coverage over North Carolina and near overcast conditions in Tennessee and Kentucky. Greater cloud coverage is indicated by the percent coverage scale below the image.

CRONOS Climate Normals Available

Thirty-year daily and monthly climate normals for Cooperative Observer stations are now online! Available parameters include normal daily max/min temperatures, normal precipitation, and normal heating and cooling degree days.

Later this spring, climate summaries will be available for all stations in the NC CRONOS Database. Climate summaries include averages, means and extremes for each station's period of record. With assistance from SCO staff, meteorology student Chris Holder has been developing the algorithms for the climate summaries.

Visit the normals webpage: http://climate.ncsu.edu/normals

Evapotranspiration Gauges Expanded to more Agnet Sites

Apart from precipitation, the most significant part of the hydrologic cycle is evapotranspiration. Evapotranspiration is the process of discharging water into the atmosphere as a result of evaporation from the soil and surface-water bodies as a result of plant transpiration. The principal climate factors influencing evapotranspiration are solar radiation and wind speed. Changes in weather during a drought often include below-normal cloud cover and above normal wind speed. These factors increase the rate of evaporation from surface-water bodies and soil surface. During a drought, transpiration by plants may decrease as plants attempt to conserve water.

Many of our AgNet stations already have evapotranspiration gauges installed. This summer, evapotranspiration gauges will be installed at Clayton, Reedy Creek, Rocky Mount, Goldsboro, and Plymouth. Data will be available via the NC CRONOS Database. Margaret Puryear, a graduate student working in the SCO, is performing analysis of the evapotranspiration data.

Research at the Capital

On Tuesday April 12, undergraduate meteorology student Suzanne Schwab presented at the third annual Research in the Capital Symposium. She was chosen as one of eight North Carolina State students to showcase her work on evapotranspiration and effective precipitation during a poster session held for the Legislators of North Carolina. The project entitled Evapotranspiration Across North Carolina at Different Agricultural Research Stations and their Impact on Potential Irrigation Practices evaluated evapotranspiration which is measured at 14 locations across the state as part of the State Climate Office of North Carolina's Environmental and Climate Observing Network (ECONet). Measurements are taken with an evapotranspiration gauge which evaporates distilled water through a porous surface that represents an agricultural crop. Effective precipitation is the difference between observed rainfall and evapotranspiration. Trends in evapotranspiration are investigated with respect to the different climate regions and elevations. The highest amount of evapotranspiration is observed in the coastal plain, while the least amounts are observed in the mountains. The piedmont has the lowest effective precipitation due to less rainfall then the coastal plain with equally high evapotranspiration rates. This information would help provide guidance for irrigation and water resources management.

During the poster session she was able to meet with a few Senators and Representatives who were very interested in the work being done in this area of research as well as the SCO's contribution to extension-related research.

SCO hosts Centennial Campus Middle School students

As in past years, the SCO hosted four interns from Centennial Campus Middle School. This past year, we've proudly worked with Rob Collis, Cedric Broadhurst, Ashley Kirby and Carly Lippart. These outstanding students spent time each week after school to learn about weather and climate in North Carolina . After reviewing weather basics, the group identified areas for further investigation. The students developed hypotheses, then collected data and performed analysis using geographic information system (GIS) technology. Associate State Climatologist, Ryan Boyles, was their advisor.

Rob and Cedric investigated the relationship between the path of landfalling hurricanes and the location and number of tornados produced. Ashley and Carly studied the locations and frequency of high winds and hail associated with severe thunderstorms. The students prepared posters and won awards at their school science fair. Ashley and Carly also won the regional science fair, and competed in the State Science Fair at Meredith College on Friday, March 18, 2005. The four students also presented posters at the NC GIS Conference in Winston-Salem on March 3, 2005. Summaries of these projects are available on the SCO website in the Educational Outreach section.

The SCO is very proud of the effort and talent shown by these outstanding students.

Ashley and Carly
Ashley Kirby and Carly Lippart
Rob and Cedric
Cedric Broadhurst and Rob Collis

Recent Conditions

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

The winter of 2004-2005 was dry and cold in North Carolina. Despite a weak El Niño event, precipitation across the region was below-normal. Historical patterns suggest that there is an increased chance of above-normal precipitation during El Niño events (warm phase).

Summer Climate Outlook

Provided by National Weather Service's Climate Prediction Center

Temperature Outlook

June 2005 through August 2005 Temperature Outlook

June 2005 - August 2005 Temperature Outlook
Precipitation Outlook

June 2005 through August 2005 Precipitation Outlook

June 2005 - August 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

The NOAA Climate Prediction Center 's outlook for the upcoming summer suggests an increased chance of above normal temperatures, but little guidance for precipitation amounts. CPC uses a combination of statistical and dynamical models to produce seasonal climate outlooks. Current observations indicate that weak El Niño conditions that have prevailed since Summer 2004 have continued to weaken. A consensus of prediction tools indicate that ENSO-neutral conditions should prevail through the summer.

Recent Activities and Visitors

Select Activities

  • Sensitivity of Simulations of Hurricane Isabel (2003) over North Carolina to Initial Sea Surface Temperature Resolution and Distribution, International Conference on Tropical Cyclones Forecasting and Response, Bhubaneshwar, India, January 4-7, 2005, Sethu Raman
  • Role of Coastal Circulations on Monsoon Rainfall over the East Coast of India, International Conference on Tropical Atmospheric Radars, Tiruppati, India, January 20-22, 2005, Sethu Raman
  • East Wake Middle School Career Day, Raleigh, January 27, 2005, Ryan Boyles
  • Need for high resolution SST to better predict storm structure and track, International Brainstorming Conference on Medium Range Weather Prediction, New Delhi , February 1-2, 2005, Sethu Raman
  • Annual Groundhog Day Celebration, NC Museum of Natural Sciences, Raleigh , February 2, 2005, Aaron Sims, Robb Ellis
  • Challenges in the understanding of the role of mesoscale boundary layer processes in the  monsoon rainfall, MONEX25 Conference, New Delhi , February 3-7, 2005, Sethu Raman
  • Centennial Campus Middle School Science Fair, Raleigh, February 14, 2005, Ryan Boyles
  • NC GIS Conference, Winston-Salem , March 3, 2005, Ryan Boyles
  • Presentation to Wake Forest-Rolesville Middle School, Wake Forest, March 16, 2005, Ryan Boyles
  • Presentation at NC Museum of Natural Sciences , Raleigh , April 5, 2005, April 14. 2005, Ryan Boyles, Peter Robinson
  • Guest Lecturer in NCSU Instrumentation Meteorology course, Raleigh , April 7, 2005, Ryan Boyles
  • NC Drought Management Advisory Council meeting, Raleigh , NC , Ryan Boyles, April 27, 2005
  • State Hazard Mitigation Advisory Group Meeting at North Carolina Emergency Management Operations Center , Raleigh , April 28, 2005, Ryan Boyles, Aaron Sims


  • Melody Binford, Pines of Carolina Girl Scout Council, January 31, 2005
  • Ken Crawford, Director, National Weather Service Integrated Surface Observing Systems, February 15, 2005
  • Kevin Smith, Job Shadowing experience, February 16, 2005
  • Chris Street, NC Farm Bureau, March 9, 2005
  • Tom Laing and Margaret Yelverton, NC Electric Cooperatives, March 15, 2005
  • Maat Academy students, March 25, 2005
  • Diane Gercke, NCSU Forestry, April 15, 2005
  • NC Agricultural Research Service personnel office, April 22, 2005

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