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Recent Questions

Question: Why don't you, or where do you, list the sunset times on this website? — Diane Amidon

Answer: There are a couple of options for you to use on our web site for sunrise and sunset times. First, on the main weather page, the sunrise times are listed at the bottom of each day's forecast (below the forecast weather map, along with the expected probability of precipitation and average wind speed and direction for the day - clicking the "overnight" tab to see the nighttime forecast will also bring up the sunset time in the same location. Using this section, you can see the sunrise/set times for each day of the forecast.

You can also click our "Almanac" link near the top of the page, which will take you to a page that includes the sun and moon data for the current day. Finally, toward the bottom of the Almanac page is a link to the U.S. Naval Observatory's Sun & Moon data. By going to that site, you can check sun and moon information for any date, as well as for any location worldwide.

Jun. 1, 2015 | Tags: astronomy, cool sites,

Question: What is the spin in the clouds in SW NC mountains right now? — Mike Nash

Answer: We had a good number of questions queued up for publication here ahead of your, so we should note the "right now" you're asking about was around 10:30 PM on Monday, May 18th. What we found in looking back through radar, satellite and surface/upper air map archives was that a pre-frontal outflow boundary had induced a fast moving squall line across the lower MS Valley and deep south that had continued southeastward, with some additional storm development in the later afternoon and evening near the northern end of the trough of low pressure associated with that line. With air rushing east and southeast along that line and moving more slowly near the northern end, showers and storms that passed across the southern mountains were induced to swirl in a counterclockwise manner, enhanced by the upward motions in the precipitation area that helped develop a low pressure center in the area, which tracked on toward the northeast later that night and into Tuesday, weakening and leaving behind a northwest to southeast surface trough on the east side of the mountains.
May. 31, 2015 | Tags: fronts & airmasses, past weather, thunderstorms

Question: Do you have a list of what days it rained and how much for Macon, NC or anywhere near Macon for the last year? It's for a project. Thanks! — Fabian

Answer: The closest two stations we could find to Macon, assuming you're asking about the town in Warren County, were a personal weather station in Macon that feeds data to to Weather Underground web site, and a Remote Automated Weather Station (RAWS) site in Warrenton that records data that can be accessed through the State Climate Office of NC.

To check the date from Macon, go to, and scroll to the bottom of the page. There you'll find tabs that allow you to view either a graph or a table of daily observations, including daily precipitation totals. You can step your way back month by month for a year using the "previous" arrow beneath the "Weather History" label.

Data from the Warrenton RAWS site is available at, however you'll see that you can only plot the daily precipitation going back 180 days, rather than a full year. However, there is an option to request additional data for a site from the Climate Office. To submit such a request, see the form available at
May. 30, 2015 | Tags: cool sites, past weather, rain

Question: Based on the information I have read 2015 is posed to have a strong El Nino developing throughout the year and possibly part of 2016. My question concerns the effects a strong El Nino typically has on the weather in North Carolina. — G. Ringley

Answer: Any single influencing factor like El Nino tends to interact with any other patterns that happen to be in place at the time, along with some random variability, so we don't get a uniform, consistent response to every El Nino or La Nina, regardless of their strength. Instead, they tend to tilt our probabilities in certain ways, but with no guarantee of a particular outcome. With that caveat in mind, there are some very general impacts that a moderate or strong El Nino, which does appear to have a good chance of continuing to develop as we head into the summer, have on North Carolina. For the warmer half of the year, there is very little direct correlation between El Nino and our temperatures or precipitation patterns, but there is an indirect effect in which El Nino tends to suppress the formation of Atlantic tropical cyclones. By doing so, overall rainfall through the summer and early fall often averages somewhat lower in El Nino years. When El Nino is in place through the winter months, as appears to be a possibility into early 2016, the effect on North Carolina is to tilt the odds a little toward greater than normal precipitation amounts due to more frequent nearby storm systems, and toward lower than normal temperatures.
May. 29, 2015 | Tags: el nino/la nina, normals

Question: It hailed bad at my residence in Franklinton between 820 and 920 pm on April 8th. I cannot find any reports of hail here at those times. Can you support these times with reports? — Brooks Finch

Answer: We checked local storm reports and archives of warnings issued by the Raleigh National Weather Service office that evening. Your part of Franklin County was included in two severe thunderstorm warnings leading up to that time frame, and there were several reports from the Franklinton and Bunn areas that verified large hail was observed. The time of these reports ranged between 8:10 PM and 8:24 PM for the Franklinton area to as late as 8:50 PM around Bunn, with hails sizes ranging as large as Golf Ball size (1.75" diameter) near Franklinton to around 2.25" near Bunn. The times on these reports indicate when the NWS received word about the hail sizes from spotters and do not necessarily mean the hail had ended by then. In addition, a report from Franklinton of Ping Pong ball size hail (1.5") was received at 8:24 PM EDT (0024 UTC), within the window of time that you mention in your question.

You can find all of these reports listed among others using the Storm Prediction Center's Storm Reports Database at Note that the times are given in Universal Time and in 24-hour format. Also, it can help to use your browser "find" function to locate reports from Franklinton amongst the many other hail reports from that day.
May. 28, 2015 | Tags: cool sites, hail, past weather

Question: I wanted to watch your Weather Documentary that aired recently but missed it. Will it be aired again or can I watch it on WRAL's website? — Tracy

Answer: That documentary, called "Exploring Climate Change," is available any time for viewing on demand at our web site. Just go to and click the blue "play" button on the title image near the center of the page.
May. 27, 2015 | Tags: climate change,

Question: I have a research project that I would like your help with if you can. I need to get the daily rainfall totals for the last 20 years. I know this is a tremendous amount of data but I really could use your help if this data is readily available. — Dale Homan

Answer: That is a lot of information, but there are some readily available sources for it, some more work than others, and some that would involve a fee. You can find archived observations that include daily rainfall totals through the "Almanac" section of our weather page, by using the "get historical data" function. This takes you to a Weather Underground site that allows you to, for example, check month by month data going back - on each monthly page, there is a table at the bottom that includes daily precipitation.

A potentially faster and more efficient place to look is on a site of the Automated Climate Information System, at, where you would select the "Single-Station -> Daily data Listing" functions, choose the start and end dates under "options," where you can also choose whether to include any other variables besides the date and precipitation value, and then select the station ("Raleigh Area" or "Raleigh-Durham" will return data from RDU for the time frame you're interested in), and click GO. You can select whether to have the information returned as an HTML table or a comma delimited file.

Finally, if you'd prefer to request the data be collected and prepared by someone else, the State Climate Office of NC has a an automated data request form at Note that this method may require a fee.
May. 26, 2015 | Tags: cool sites, past weather, rain

Question: Can a tropical system that has moved inland continue to be supported by feeder bands that are still in the ocean? — Wilson Cheeley

Answer: Feeder bands that remain over warm water often remain rather active after the center of a tropical cyclone has moved over land, and may continue to bring heavy rains and strong winds, especially near the immediate shore. However, even when there are a couple of feeder bands flowing in from offshore, a tropical system that is substantially inland tends to decay rather rapidly, due to the loss of warmth and moisture provided by the sea surface, as well as to friction associated with terrain, buildings, trees and the like. So, it's reasonable to say that feeders do offer some support to the core of the system, but also that this support rarely if ever is enough to offset the changes acting to weaken the system.
May. 25, 2015 | Tags: general meteorology, hurricanes

Question: I like watching the weather on WRAL and you do a great job. One quibble: Could you kindly list the relative humidity along with the dew point? I get that the dew point is a measure of up thousands of feet and that it is more complete, but I live in the first 5'10" of said column and at 60 have a much better take on humidity. — Gordon Clay

Answer: We do include the relative humidity (RH) on our display of current conditions, along with the dew point, but generally show maps with dew point instead of relative humidity, since dew point is more directly tied to how much water is in the air. One point we'd make, though, regarding your question. When we show dew point observed at the airport, or a map of dew points around the area, these are not averaged or integrated over thousands of feet, but represent the dew point value measured at the very same location as the RH. One reason we like following dew point is that if it changes, we know the amount of moisture in the air has changed. If RH changes, it could be that the amount of moisture increased, decreased or stayed the same, depending on what the temperature did during the same time. Looking at a recent Sunday, for example, at 6AM the temperature was 63, the dew point 59 and the the RH was 87%. By 4PM, the temperature was 87, dew point was 64 and the RH was 46%. Moisture in the air actually increased in that first 5' 10" of the atmosphere, but because of the increase in temperature the RH fell considerably.

In general, in very warm or hot weather, humidity is quite low for dew points in the 40s or lower, very tolerable to comfortable for dew points in the 50s, increasingly humid feeling for dew points through the 60s, and steamy to oppressive as dew points climb through the 70s.
May. 24, 2015 | Tags: humidity/dew point, maps & codes

Question: I understand that large cities often record higher temperatures than the surrounding residential areas particularly in the summer; thus heating the surrounding air mass which affects the weather. Does the physicality of the I-95 corridor have any such significant effect on the weather along that corridor? — Roderick Thompson

Answer: While it is the case that sizable cities have a "heat island" effect as you noted, there is no evidence that the impact of a generally 4-6 lane roadway such as I-95 has a detectable effect on weather in its vicinity, at least beyond a very small scale. Any sizable road surface will tend to capture and release heat somewhat differently from surrounding grasslands or forests, but these effects are small in relation to the forces that drive large, synoptic weather systems, and even smaller cells and bands of convection like thunderstorms and squall lines. It's true you'll hear us mention I-95 from time to time in relation to the location of certain weather features, but that is just a matter of it being a conveniently located and widely known geographical marker. It does happen to neatly coincide on some occasions with the influence of some genuinely significant large-scale topographic and geological features, though, due to the fact it more or less parallels the Atlantic coast to the east and the Appalachian mountains to the west.
May. 23, 2015 | Tags: general meteorology

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