September 2012 Climate Update

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North Carolina Climate, the monthly newsletter of the State Climate Office of NC, covers sector-specific climate education modules, the hurricane database tools, CoCoRaHs and a monthly climate summary for August with impacts across the state.


Climate Education Modules

Screenshot of Climate Modules Website

Resources for climate education are available on the Climate Office website to educate sector professionals about how climate and weather relate to the different audiences.

These resources are specifically aimed toward professional sector audiences. Currently, five websites exist representing Agriculture Extension Agents and Growers, K-12 Educators, Forestry Professionals, Water Resource Managers, and Public Health Professionals. Each website is broken down into sub-categories of weather and climate information. Within each weather or climate webpage is a linkage from the science content to the specific professional sector audience. This shows a relationship between the science content and the real world. The different audiences are then able to better understand why the science information within each webpage is important and the relationship to their specific field. Each individual website can be modified to best serve the intended audience, however all of the websites ultimately have a similar look and feel to one another.

The K-12 website is complete and can be viewed at Additions to the K-12 website will still continue.

Sector examples are being created for the Forestry site. We are currently in contact with folks from Water Resources and Public Health, but development to include the linking examples has not yet begun. We are looking for anyone who may have some guidance on the development of contextual examples for the different sector audiences or who may know of other sector audiences that would benefit from the designed website. Feel free to contact our office if you're interested!


It's Peak Hurricane Season!

Satellite image of Hurricane Irene in 2011; courtesy of NASA
After some substantial maintenance on our tropical cyclone database this summer, our database search tool allowing users to find Atlantic-based storms is back online as of last month — and just in time for peak hurricane season! Search the database for storms by name, year, intensity (determined by category, maximum winds, and/or minimum central pressure), or proximity to a given location. All results that meet your search criteria link to a dynamic map of each storm's track. To access the search database, click here:

Also back online is our tropical cyclone statistics page, which allows users to view basic statistics for storms that have made landfall in or affected each state across the Southeast. These statistics are displayed in a table that dynamically changes based on the user-inputted storm radius. The total number of storm days by week and the number of storms by decade are also displayed graphically. Users can dynamically change these graphs as well by choosing different start and end years, or by selecting storms only of a certain category. To access the tropical cyclone statistics page, click here:


Sign Up for CoCoRaHS!

In September 2007, North Carolina joined with several other states to become a part of the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow (CoCoRaHS) network. This program's goal is to encourage people — young, old, and in-between — to become volunteer observers who provide rain, hail and snow measurements from their own backyards. Each day, volunteers take observations of precipitation from their CoCoRaHs rain gages and record them on the CoCoRaHS website. The observations are then made available online, giving a wide range of agencies and scientists the ability to study precipitation patterns and variability, and apply that knowledge to daily situations such as drought impacts to water resources.

CoCoRaHS volunteers use a standard scientific rain gauge available through the CoCoRaHS website, which costs about $30, including shipping. Volunteers complete online training and install the rain gauge on their property about five feet above the ground in a site with little or no obstruction from trees or other objects.

To sign up as a volunteer observer, visit the CoCoRaHS Web site at Once you register and begin to report, your rainfall observations will become part of the volunteer record, and will be plotted on maps of your county and state. You can then view the maps to see how your observation fits in with your neighbors involved in CoCoRaHS across the country!


Climate Summary: A typical August for NC - Some hot, some cool, some wet, some dry

Temperature and Precipitation by climate division
Departures from Normal for August 2012
Based on Preliminary Data
Temperature and Precipitation Departures from Normal

August 2012 was, in many ways, a typical August for North Carolina. In general, temperatures averaged out to be near normal. But as is typical, those monthly averages include some very warm days and some cool ones. Early August was generally warmer, while later August was generally cooler. Similarly, rainfall totals for the month were generally closer to normal, with wetter conditions in the east and drier conditions in the west.

Some part of the state experienced a few days with very heavy rain, which produced localized flooding. Parts of the Triad and Sandhills region had flood reports, but the most dramatic was in Roanoke Rapids where 11.5 inches of rain fell from local thunderstorms in a few hours. This amount broke the 24-hour rainfall record for Roanoke Rapids and washed out a few roads in the area.

Precipitation for August 2012
Based on estimates from NWS Radar; Data courtesy NWS/NCEP
MPE Precipitation

Precipitation for August 2012: Percent of Normal
Based on estimates from NWS Radar; Data courtesy NWS/NCEP
MPE Precipitation Percent of Normal

Local Storm Reports for August 2012
Preliminary Count of LSRs courtesy National Weather Service
LSR Summary


Impacts to Agriculture and Water Resources

Drought isn't a concern in North Carolina, although a few spots have been dry. There are no reports of water systems with any drought problems, and most reservoirs are in good condition for this time of the year.

For agriculture, rainfall has been adequate to prevent drought impacts, and in many places the rainfall has been problematic. In particular, there are reports of increased fungal disease and excessively wet fields that are preventing harvest, especially in parts of central and eastern NC.

US Drought Monitor for North Carolina
Courtesy NC DENR Division of Water Resources

Drought Monitor

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