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Recent Questions

Question: When are the earliest and latest dates Raleigh has seen 90 degrees? — Caravaggio

Answer: In records stretching back to 1887, the earliest occurrence of 90 or higher for Raleigh was on March 12, 1990, while the latest was on October 10, 1939. The average date of the first 90 or higher of the year is May 10th, while the average date of the last 90 or higher is September 11th.
Sep. 24, 2016 | Tags: heat, normals, records/extremes

Question: Can you tell me if there is a way to look up wind directions from past days? The specific day I was looking for was September 10th 2016. — Jonathan

Answer: To track wind direction over time, and see that data graphically, you can click the "Almanac" link on our web site, then enter your date under "Get Historical Data." The resulting page will default to data from the RDU airport, but does include a "Search for Another Location" box. Also, once you are on that page, you can change the view between daily, weekly and monthly, for example, and scroll down a bit to see graphs over that time span of several variables, wind speed and direction included. There are also links near the top of the page to step to the previous or next day, week or month, and you can see a table of text observations that include winds as well, by scrolling down past the graphical data.
Sep. 23, 2016 | Tags: past weather, winds,

Question: When do you think we will start seeing fall weather? (75 degrees or lower) — Heather West

Answer: We'll likely have a day or two here and there last weeks of September that stay in the upper 70s, but consistently seeing highs in the lower 70s or below could easily take until two or three weeks into October. We don't have any confident way to predict specific stretches of day-to-day weather that far in advance, but by that time frame we have reached a point where our normal high temperatures have declined into the low to mid 70s range.
Sep. 22, 2016 | Tags: normals

Question: Could we have a tornado in the fall season? — Amy

Answer: It can't be ruled out, as tornadoes are possible in any month of the year in our part of the state. Climatologically, they are most numerous in the Spring, during the period from March to May, with a small secondary peak in frequency in the September to November time frame. Fatalities from tornadoes are rather rare in our state overall, but it is notable that November has seen the third most tornado deaths, with 19 during the span from 1950 to 2014, behind the months of March (48) and April (38), as documented in a recent undergraduate student project carried out under the guidance of the Raleigh NWS office.
Sep. 21, 2016 | Tags: preparedness, tornadoes

Question: Why do the prevailing winds change in September and October? — Brian

Answer: In September and October, as we transition out of summer and into the Fall, the jest stream begins to move on average to a more southerly position and as a result we begin to have more frequent passages of the polar front south of our position. However, during this early part of the transition to a colder regime, it is common from fronts to move a short distance south of us and either stall or wash out, while a ridge of surface high pressure centered near New England or off the northeastern coast of the U.S. either stalls for a few days or moves slowly, with the high pressure ridge extending for several days down the eastern seaboard, focused on the east side of the Appalachian mountains. This high pressure position results in winds anywhere from northerly to easterly for several days at a time on a number of occasions during those months, leading to the prevailing direction being northeasterly. That said, as with the remainder of the year, it is possible to have winds from any direction during September and October, but they are somewhere between north and east often enough to average out to northeasterly. For the rest of the year, winds can also be variable, but they are frequently enough between south and west for that to be the predominant direction for all other months. During the summer, for example, winds are often fairly light but strongly favor a southwesterly direction due to the near-stagnant position of the Bermuda High. During the core of winter there is a noticeable tendency for winds to shift to northwesterly behind cold fronts, northeasterly for a short time with high pressure areas northwest of us, and southwesterly as high pressure centers move to our east or southeast and new cold fronts approach from the west or northwest.
Sep. 20, 2016 | Tags: fronts & airmasses, general meteorology, winds

Question: How many 90+ degree days did Raleigh have in 2015? — Linda

Answer: The Raleigh-Durham airport reported high temperatures of 90 or higher 52 times in 2015. For perspective, the long-term average for the Raleigh area in records since 1887 is 43 days, while the current "normal" (defined as the 30-year average from 1981-2010) is 48. The year 2010 had the most so far with 91 days, while the lowest number on record was 11 days in 1889.
Sep. 19, 2016 | Tags: heat, past weather, records/extremes

Question: What is a typical workday like for the WRAL weather crew behind the scenes? Obviously, there is more involved than the short time a day you guys spend live on the air. — Brian

Answer: That "live time on the air" has really grown compared to the old days when there were just a few half-hour newscasts on one station during an entire day, but we know what you mean. Our duties here in the WeatherCenter include analyzing weather data, including surface and upper air maps, radar and satellite images, lightning data, and computer model forecast text and graphics, and from this process making detailed forecasts of cloud cover, precipitation potential, temperatures and winds for the next 48 hours or so, and more general forecasts out to seven days in advance. We are then responsible for presenting these forecasts in radio broadcasts for the North Carolina News Network (about 75 stations), several stations in the Wilmington area, and for our sister Capitol Broadcasting Company radio stations WRAL-FM and WCMC-FM three times a day, updating weather forecasts on our web site and a number of telephone recordings 2-4 times per day, and producing graphics and presenting weather forecasts on WRAL-TV, WRAZ-TV, and WILM-TV several times throughout the day. We also occasionally record special radio forecasts for the Durham Bulls, record TV forecasts that air on HDTV, Digital Cable,, the Fayetteville Observer Web Site and on some Mobile Phone systems, and at times record taped video forecasts that run on the PNC Center Jumbotron during Carolina Hurricanes and NCSU Wolfpack games at that arena, as well as some for the Durham Bulls that run on the scoreboard at the DBAP. We also frequently make presentations to school and civic groups, and appear at events like the State Fair on behalf of WRAL. Finally, there's lot of e-mail to answer, along with postings to the WRAL WeatherCenter Facebook page and Twitter feeds, the AskGreg column, "Weather Feed" section and WeatherCenter Blog on this web site, and we have to take care of routine things like keeping all the computers in the WeatherCenter up and running and conducting training on new weather analysis and presentation systems (like Dual Doppler 5000, Interactive Fusion 7-day graphics and Live HD weather) and keeping up on the state of the art in meteorology through review of journal and news articles on the subject, and attendance at occasional seminars and training sessions conducted by the National Weather Service or NCSU. We also have to be prepared to work long shifts during snow or ice storms and hurricanes, and to break into programming and provide emergency information in the event of severe thunderstorms or tornadoes (the official warnings for these events are issued by the National Weather Service) or sometimes an event, like the Apex chemical storage facility fire and evacuation a few years back, that is not directly weather-related but is impacted greatly by the weather that occurs as it happens.
Sep. 18, 2016 | Tags: careers & education,

Question: Is there a place to track the changes in barometric pressure over time on your website? There used to be a graph but I cannot find it now. — Karen

Answer: You can see current readings of pressure on our site by clicking the "Current Conditions" link. To track pressure over time, and see that data graphically, you can click the "Almanac" link, then enter a date under "Get Historical Data." The resulting page will default to data from the RDU airport, but does include a "Search for Another Location" box. Also, once you are on that page, you can change the view between daily, weekly and monthly, for example, and scroll down a bit to see graphs over that time span of several variables, barometric pressure included. There are also links near the top of the page to step to the previous or next day, week or month.
Sep. 17, 2016 | Tags: past weather, weather & health,

Question: Will we have snow this year? — Garrett

Answer: We usually have at least some snow during the winter season, but the amount can vary greatly from nearly unmeasurable to more than two feet. However, it is very difficult to predict far ahead on a seasonal basis how much to expect, because snow amounts depend so strongly on the particular moisture, temperature and pressure distributions of individual storm systems that cannot be projected with confidence more than a few days ahead of time. Some large-scale, long time duration patterns like La Nina and El Nino can have an overall impact that favors seasonal temperatures above, near or below normal, and seasonal precipitation amounts along the same lines, but even good forecasts of these patterns do not historically correlate with good confidence as to whether snowfall will run above, near or below normal. A few months back, it appeared we had a good chance of a La Nina winter, which favors warmer than normal temperatures and below normal precipitation (but often a lot of wide swings to colder and warmer, wetter and drier conditions within the season). However, in recent weeks the likelihood of La Nina conditions for the winter appears to be decreasing, while the chance that we will have a pattern with neither El Nino nor La Nina ( a "neutral" pacific sea surface temperature pattern) has grown.
Sep. 16, 2016 | Tags: el nino/la nina, snow, winter weather

Question: Thursday evening at 0630 pm, I was sitting in traffic on Hwy 98 near Wake Forest. I saw a probable meteor, very bright flashing with a long trail of light. It was bright in the daylight skies. I'm also wondering - can these celestial bodies leave a smoky trail? Have you gotten any other reports of this probable sighting for September 8, 2016? — Christine Nuchurch

Answer: We did get some other e-mail and Facebook reports of that event, and even received a dashcam video that caught the fireball as it appeared late that afternoon. It isn't all that common to be able to see a fireball in the daylight, so this was a fairly unusual occurrence. You can get more information about it in a couple of places. First, a WeatherCenter Blog post by Tony Rice at, and also at the reports page of the American Meteor Society for that event at Glad you got to view it!
Sep. 15, 2016 | Tags: astronomy, cool sites,

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