Ask Greg

Recent Questions

Question: What day do we break the record for consecutive rain days? Is it today or tomorrow? — Debbie Semple

Answer: You sent your question on the day that turned out to be the last in the streak of days at RDU with measurable rain (.01" or greater). That was Monday, Oct 5th, and the .12" that fell that day marked 12 straight days with rain at the airport, beginning on Sep 24th. That broke the old record of 11 days in a row at the airport, set back in 1982, and it tied the Raleigh area record of 12 consecutive days, set in 1887. This year's run of days with rain yielded 7.8 inches of rain at the airport. We checked that against other 12-day periods through history (not necessarily with rain every day), and found that the most we've ever gotten in Raleigh over that span of time was 13.3 inches in September 1999. As you might imagine, that was associated with Hurricane Floyd.
Oct. 8, 2015 | Tags: Floyd, rain, records/extremes

Question: I'm a farmer in Palmyra. I have a very late tobacco crop this year and hope we are not headed for an early frost or freeze?? Any info on this subject would be GREATLY appreciated! — Chris Braddy

Answer: At the time we're answering this, there doesn't appear to be much threat of a frost or freeze anytime very soon, with longer range models indicating a couple of possible periods of low temperatures in the 40s during the second and third weeks of October, but nothing that points to a likely dip into the 30s for your area. In your part of Halifax County, average first frost and freeze maps from the State Climate Office indicate a normal first frost around October 23rd and a first freeze around November 4th, but of course these dates can vary considerably year-to-year (the standard deviation is around +/-10 days). We hope you didn't suffer too much loss with the recent heavy rains and gusty northeast winds.
Oct. 7, 2015 | Tags: cold, dew/frost, normals

Question: By my count, we have had measurable precipitation for 6 consecutive days now at RDU, and the forecast calls for at least 5 more. What is the longest streak of consecutive days of measurable precipitation here in central NC? — Craig DeAlmeida

Answer: RDU has served as "station of record" for Raleigh since the mid 1940s, and in that time there have been four occasions when measurable precipitation was observed there 11 days in a row, the most recent streak ending on May 29, 1982, until this year, when we tied that mark on Sunday, Oct 4th. If we extend our search to include all the previous stations of record for Raleigh, we find that there was also one 12-day stretch recorded in 1887, ending on August 8th of that year. At the time we're posting this, there was a chance, though not a certainty, that this record would be tied on Monday, Oct 5th.
Oct. 6, 2015 | Tags: rain, records/extremes

Question: I see we are up to 79 dewpoint at RDU. Is this an all time record high dewpoint? — Jason Turner

Answer: You're referring to the value that was reached on Tuesday afternoon, Sep 29th. That was a very high value for this time of year, and even by summer standards in our area. However, it wasn't a record reading. The highest we know of at the Raleigh-Durham airport occurred on August 10, 2007 when there was one observation, shortly after a brief shower on a very hot day, with the dew point spiking to a super-steamy 82 degrees. The temperature at that time was 89 degrees (after a high of 104 shortly before the shower) for a relative humidity of 80 percent and a heat index value of 110. This was one of only two days since records began at RDU on which the dew point there has climbed above 80 degrees (the other was July 24, 1965, when the dew point reached 81), and there have only been six other days there when it reached as high as 80.
Oct. 5, 2015 | Tags: humidity/dew point, past weather, records/extremes

Question: A couple of weekends back we were out in the late evening enjoying the nice weather and kept noticing that the moon rose but then kept dropping until it dropped below the treetops. Was that normal or very atypical? — George Powell

Answer: We're not quite sure from the question whether your perception was that the moon rose and dropped and then rose again and dropped again that evening. That would not be expected behavior for the moon, and we verified that the moon the evening of the date you referred to rose in the east-southeast around 12:35 in the afternoon, reached it's maximum elevation (a little under 40 degrees) above the horizon in the southern sky just before 6 PM, and then moved downward and toward the north until setting around 11:35 PM in the west-southwestern sky. We would guess that during the evening you may have been moving around such that changes in topography, your elevation and the surroundings led to varying perspectives relative to the moon's location, and that had you viewed it from the same location all evening it would have simply appeared to smoothly sink toward and below the local horizon, be that a treeline, buildings or some other obstruction. There are a few night sky viewer sites or applications for the web and smartphones where you can replay past behavior of objects like the moon, or project into the future to anticipate how they will appear and behave on a given day or night.
Oct. 4, 2015 | Tags: astronomy

Question: When can Sanford expect the first freeze this year in 2015? — Audrey Smith

Answer: There isn't much of a way to make an actual forecast as to the first day with freezing temperatures more than a few days in advance, and when that becomes apparent we'll make note of it in our forecasts on air and online, along with any freeze watches and warnings that may be issued by the National Weather Service. Until then, climatology is about the best we can recommend.

First, a set of horticultural information leaflets maintained on an NCSU extension web site has first freeze dates by county, and lists October 22nd as the average first date for Sanford, with a standard deviation of +/- 10 days. You can find these tables at Another resource based on a longer data set, from the Southeast Regional Climate Center, lists an average first freeze date of October 25th for Sanford, with an 80% chance the first freeze occurs between Oct 11 and Nov 6, and shows Oct 5 and Nov 10 as the earliest and latest recorded first freeze dates there.

In addition, the State Climate Office of NC posted a blog with contour maps of first freeze dates, based on a more recent averaging period than either of the previous sources. This map would indicate a first freeze date for Lee County that ranges from about Nov 2 in the northern corner of the county to Nov 4 in the south. They also have a map that roughly approximates first frost (freezing temperatures on objects, while air temperatures a few feet up remain above freezing) by showing the average dates that the temperature first dips to 36 degrees or lower. This results in approximate first frost dates for Lee County of between about Oct 23 in the north to Oct 25 in the south. The blog post with these maps is located at
Oct. 3, 2015 | Tags: cold, cool sites, dew/frost, normals, past weather

Question: Is it just me, or has it been unusually overcast and cloud-covered in the Raleigh region the last few months? It reminds me of winter time (sans the snow) growing up along the Great Lakes. I miss the sun and Carolina blue skies! — James B.

Answer: Your perception is borne out by observed conditions, at least at the RDU airport. While the number of days that average out overall as "cloudy" during the past three months have been near or even a bit below the long term average, the number of days that average out "clear" has run well below the normal. Over the course of the three months, the average number of days falling into the "clear" category (defined as three tenths of the sky covered or less, probably better labeled "fair") is 24, and this year that same period has seen only 4 days meeting that criteria! That has left us with lots of days classified as either partly cloudy or cloudy.
Oct. 2, 2015 | Tags: clouds, normals, past weather

Question: Not a question. This weather reminds me of September Gales we use to have when I was a child; brings back good memories. — Linda

Answer: You're referring to the cool, breezy and wet weather we settled into for a while recently after a stretch of warm, dry conditions. We have to admit, we weren't familiar with a particular term for the pattern like "September Gales," but upon doing a bit of checking around, found that it was an old time term used in the eastern U.S. to describe exactly that kind of turn in the weather, often at least partially as a result of a tropical system passing by to the east. Accounts of the phenomenon mention a combination of welcome and concern on the part of farmers, who, for example, would be glad for the break from warm weather and the possibility of needed rain, but also wary of rain that became too heavy and winds too strong, perhaps damaging cotton crops just before harvest. The pattern that we recently experienced wasn't related to a tropical system, but rather to a front that stalled offshore and interacted with a non-tropical low pressure wave.
Oct. 1, 2015 | Tags: folklore, rain, winds

Question: Tide was extremely high at Atlantic Beach Sunday morning at high tide (approximately 7:45 AM). It was higher than we have seen it even when we had a hurricane. Can you explain? — Lisa Taylor

Answer: A couple of things are going on here, the main one being the presence of a low pressure trough offshore that has combined with persistent high pressure off to our north to produce winds that have ranged between northerly and easterly for a long, sustained period. These winds, even though not nearly as strong as a hurricane, have been pushing water near the surface toward the coast, and with the lengthy period of northeast winds well offshore, even fairly deep water stretching down 100 feet or so is moved in bulk toward the northwest by a process called Ekman transport, impinging on and piling up along the coast, causing water to rise above the normal tide levels for the period. The winds were just about northerly and under 10 knots before about September 21st, and under those conditions observed tide levels still matched the predicted values pretty well. However, around the 21st and beyond, the winds veered to a more northeasterly direction and then east-northeast, and picked up to 10-20 knots with gusts 20-30. From that time on, the water levels have built from near the predicted tide height to about a foot and a half above those predicted heights due to the excess water pushed toward the coast. In addition, in the days surrounding September 20th or so the tidal range from low to high was much smaller, due to the sun, earth and moon being configured at right angles so that their gravitational effects don't add together. However, in the last week or so we've progressed from the quarter moon up to the full moon that occurred Sunday night. This leaves the sun, earth and moon in a nearly straight line (in this instance, enough so to result in a total lunar eclipse), enhancing the gravitational effects that produce the tides and making the tidal range from low to high notably greater than it had been. These tides are also enhanced a bit more by the fact that this month's full moon happened with the moon at perigee, meaning it is at the closest point to earth in its orbit, further increasing the gravitational effects on water. So, the long period of favorable winds is the root reason water levels are running so high, and that pattern just happened to be in place at a time when the high tides would have been rather elevated anyway due to the orbital state of the moon. A pair of graphs that help illustrate all of this is posted at
Sep. 30, 2015 | Tags: astronomy, flooding, general meteorology

Question: Is there a prediction on the 2016 Atlantic hurricane season yet? These past three years have produced little activity, and I think we're due for an active season. — Gerald

Answer: It's a little early yet for those predictions. Most of the groups that analyze and predict factors that can affect the activity level of tropical cyclones wait until about April or May to make projections for the upcoming season. By that time, patterns that may affect sea surface temperatures, large-scale pressure fields over the north Atlantic, and other variables are in better position to project into the season, and forecasts for the state of the El Nino/Southern Oscillation pattern in the Pacific have greater confidence. One of the groups that makes these seasonal outlooks, from Colorado State, used to issue their initial forecast in December, but chose to discontinue that product a few years back due to a lack of skill in the forecasts made that far in advance. Instead, they still offer a qualitative, rather than quantitative, discussion in December which lays out the current state of some of the variables and patterns involved, and covers a range of potential outcomes depending on how those factors progress. Their forecasts and discussions can be accessed at
Sep. 29, 2015 | Tags: cool sites, hurricanes

Questions 51 - 60 of 4776.

Ask Greg Your Question Now!

Please understand that the volume of Ask Greg questions makes it impossible to answer every one or to list them all here. You may find it helpful to search for your own question using the form at the top of this page to see if it has been posted in our database.

When you submit a question you understand that your question and e-mail address will be sent to our editorial staff. Accordingly your question will not be subject to the privacy policy of this site.