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Recent Questions

Question: What is the likelihood of a Sharknado ever coming to Raleigh? How would I prepare my family to survive such a meteorological disaster? — Alex DiLalla

Answer: You may have thought we'd just ignore this question, but... we'll bite! We expect that likelihood is low enough that the only place a Sharknado will occur in Raleigh is in pictures on various sorts of screens. If you really want to protect your family just the same, you might consider investing in some of that chain-mail armored clothing, as seen, for example, at
Aug. 12, 2014 | Tags: folklore

Question: I have noticed that it is unseasonably cold this weekend. What is the cause of it? — Austin

Answer: You were writing about the weekend of August 2nd and 3rd, and probably thinking of Friday the 1st as well. That entire period featured an upper level trough over the eastern United States that brought the jet stream a good deal farther south than it usually resides this time of year. This had the dual effect of allowing relatively cool air of Canadian origin to funnel south into the area, and also kept a frontal boundary to our southeast active in producing periods of thick cloud cover and rainfall, both of which helped hold temperatures well below the seasonal normal at that time of highs around 90. On Friday and Saturday, highs held in the 70s, including a high of 70 degrees at RDU on Saturday August 2nd that was a new record for the date, breaking the old "coolest high" record of 71 set back in 1916. Our coolest high ever in August, though, was in the upper 50s!
Aug. 11, 2014 | Tags: fronts & airmasses, general meteorology, past weather, records/extremes

Question: How or where can you go to get local rain fall totals? Last night on WRAL at the beginning of the forecast it showed 2.43 inches of rain for us in Wayne Co and then when the weather segment started it was under 1 inch. I have been all over the internet and cannot find a good site that shows daily rainfall totals, please advise. — Debbie

Answer: On place to look is in the archive section of Weather Underground, which we link to in the "archive" section of our web site. A quick way to check there is to use the "monthly" view of past weather data, which includes a table near the bottom of the page that shows daily highs, lows and precipitation totals, among other things. In your case, you would want to check the readings from KGSB (Seymour Johnson AFB and KGWW (Goldsboro-Wayne County airport). The direct link to get to those observations is When you want to chenge to another location, use the "airport" box along the right hand sidfe of the page, where you could enter KGWW, KRDU, etc to switch locations. You can also go forward and backward by month, week or day.

Since observations at airports may or may not well represent conditions across an entire county or region, you may also like to estimate rainfall amounts using contour maps from the NWS Precipitation Analysis Page at Here, select the "NWS WFOs" radio button under "Locations", and scroll to Raleigh, NC, which should zoom the map in to central NC. You can then add county lines and highways/city labels using the boxes just below the map to help orient you. You can then make any number of selections regarding the amount of time to cover and whether to show observed rain, percent of normal, etc.
Aug. 10, 2014 | Tags: past weather, rain

Question: How did the sand desk not melt with all the rain that we have had during its tenure??? Or was it covered when not in use?? — Mary Holt

Answer: You answered your own question quite correctly! WHile there were some intense storms and heavy rainfall events since the SandDesk was built (and as you know by now it's still in use), there is a tent that we keep nearby that can be quickly moved over the desk to shelter it during rainy and windy periods.
Aug. 9, 2014 | Tags: preparedness,

Question: We hear and see many weather patterns impacted by the I-95 corridor. Why does the rain, snow, split/dump directly over the I-95 Corridor? It seems the Highway has an impact/effect on the weather. Is it pollution from the traffic, heat from the asphalt? Why? — Kathy Lamm

Answer: The I-95 corridor happens to lie along a zone in which typical meteorological patterns related to the geography of our region (mountains to our west and the Atlantic to our east, along with a transition from the higher, hillier Piedmont to the lower and flatter coastal plain, all of which run more or less parallel with that highway) and that of the Unites States in general, frequently leads to airmass boundaries, frontal zones and precipitation type, coverage or intensity transitions in that general area. The highway itself has little if anything to do with this, but does serve as a convenient, widely-known marker for quickly describing the location of these focused events or transition zones.
Aug. 8, 2014 | Tags: folklore, general meteorology, maps & codes

Question: The cold front coming through today is supposed to bring the second major serious July cool down. I notice that a few hours ahead of the cold front the dew points have already fallen from lower 70's to mid-60's. I usually thing of cold fronts having a combination of drop in dew points, wind shift, and rising barometer. How can dew point fall ahead of the front? — Dave Crotts

Answer: Your question refers to a front that moved through on Monday July 27th, and it highlights the fact that our concepts of cold front and other primary weather system features are often oversimplified and streamlined for presentation in the limited time or space that we have to work with on TV, radio and the web. Cold fronts can take on a variety of forms and organization, and encompass a range of complexity. In the case of the one you're asking about, there was a cold front aloft that preceeded the surface front by several hours. The front aloft provided most of the lift that produced some sprinkles and light showers early in the morning, and it left us with considerably drier air above the humid layer that had dominated at the surface. Mixing associated with the band of showers brought some of that drier air to the surface and reduced dew points, while the transition to cooler and even drier air lagged behind and passed through with little but a few patched of mid-level cloud cover, followed by the highs in the mid 80s and dew points in the low and mid 50s that we experienced the next day.
Aug. 7, 2014 | Tags: fronts & airmasses, general meteorology, past weather

Question: Where can I find the air quality index? — Norma

Answer: Air quality forecasts for our area are produced by the North Carolina Division of Air Quality. If you go to our Weather Resources section (by clicking the blue "resources" link near the top of our page or scrolling down to the Weather Resources section and clicking the "view more" link), you'll find a link called "NC Air Quality forecast." That will take you to the most current forecast page from NC DAQ. On that page, you'll also find some links to further information like real-time air quality measurements, forecast verification statistics and more.
Aug. 6, 2014 | Tags: air quality,

Question: There was a tornado warning for Wilson, and I was In Wilson, and I had the WRAL Alert app. Why didn't I get an alert on my tablet? — Jackson Garland

Answer: The only recent tornado warning we could find for Wilson County was issued the evening of July 3rd. You didn't mention what your exact location was within Wilson County, but the warning in this case only applied to about the northern third of the county (along with southwestern Edgecombe and southeastern Nash counties), so if you were somewhere south of that warning area the tablet's location services function would have prevented the alert from sounding, since it didn't apply to your location. This is an advantage that the Weather Alert app has over some other alert functions that sound for everyone in a county, regardless of how much of the county is affected. This feature is meant to reduce false alarms by restricting alerts to those that truly pose a potential threat.

If you'd like to see the warning area, go to the address below and you'll see a map with a red polygon denoting its outline. You can use the blue box at the upper right to turn off the radar image and turn on county lines, and you can zoom and pan the image to get a good sense of where you were located relative to the tornado warning. If it turns out you were actually inside the warning area in northern Wilson County and still didn't receive the alert, please write use back and we'll try to help figure out what may have gone wrong. See for the map in question.
Aug. 5, 2014 | Tags: past weather, severe weather, weather radio,

Question: I need to know temp, humidity, and rain amount for the last 30 days. Do you have a chart or graph that you can provide? — Chuck

Answer: You can click the "almanac" link on our main weather page, and there you'll find a "Get Historical Data" section where you can enter a date of interest and click the "send" button. That will default to a page with graphs and observations from the RDU airport for that date, but once you are there you can either search for another location using the search box near the top of the page, or change the weather history location using airport codes in a box along the right hand side of the page. In addition, you can change the display from "daily" to "weekly" or "monthly" and scroll down to see graphs and text listings of daily high and low temperature, precipitation, winds, observed weather phenomena, and more.
Aug. 4, 2014 | Tags: past weather,

Question: What is the highest temperature in Raleigh so far this year? — Dan Bender

Answer: As of the end of July, with a fairly mild temperature regime in place, the hottest reading at the RDU airport for 2014 has been 98 degrees, which occurred on both July 8th and July 14th. A mild summer in 2013 never matched that level, as the warmest reading of the year was 96 degrees on July 24th.
Aug. 3, 2014 | Tags: heat, past weather, records/extremes

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