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Recent Questions

Question: I've seen names mentioned in the media for our recent winter storms. Are they named and, if so, how does this happen? — Mary Wiley

Answer: One media company (the Weather Channel) decided last winter season to start naming winter storms for purposes of their broadcasts. This is different from tropical cyclones, which are named by committees of the World Meteorological Organization, with those names recognized and utilized in an official capacity by government organizations such as the National Weather Service and National Hurricane Center. Government organizations and most other media sources (including WRAL) do not currently use names for winter storms.
Feb. 25, 2014 | Tags: maps & codes, winter weather

Question: What is the record for snowfall in Fayetteville? And when was the last time it snowed consecutively more than 3 inches of snow in Fayetteville? — Carri V

Answer: A storm that ended March 2, 1927 brought 24 inches of snow to Fayetteville, and stands as by far the record total for that area. We were unable to find any records indicating that Fayetteville has received 3 inches of snow in two separate events on consecutive days prior to the storms that occurred on February 11th and 12th, 2014.
Feb. 24, 2014 | Tags: past weather, records/extremes, snow

Question: If my TV loses signal how can I get your live broadcast on the radio. What channel? — Kenneth Monds

Answer: In the event of a power outage or signal loss from cable or satellite TV services, you have a couple of options for seeing or listening to our coverage, especially during significant severe or wintry weather when we may be staying on the air in a continuous coverage mode.

With regards to radio, in those situations we often simulcast the news on our sister radio station, Mix 101.5, as was the case during the snow and ice storm of Feb 12-13. As a side note, the 6 PM evening news is routinely simulcast there on weekdays.

Also note that smartphones, tablets and laptop computers that have either a cell data signal or access to wi-fi that may be on a backup power supply also provide alternative ways to not just listen to, but watch our broadcasts, which are streamed on the web site and through the WRAL News apps available for most mobile platforms. For details on what's available, see
Feb. 23, 2014 | Tags: severe weather,

Question: It snowed in Rocky Mount NC on Easter Sunday in the 1940s. Is the exact of that Easter snowfall known? — Joyce W. Taylor

Answer: We weren't sure what word was missing after "exact" in your question, but in looking over records we found reports from two station just southwest and southeast of Rocky Mt and a station in Nashville that reported anywhere from 5.5 to 7 inches of snow during the period of March 24-25, 1940. Easter Sunday that year fell on March 24th, so this was almost certainly the storm you had in mind. No other 1940s snow events in the area coincided so closely with the holiday.
Feb. 22, 2014 | Tags: past weather, snow

Question: How many feet of snow/ice did we get in the Clayton area on 02/12/14? I can't find any reference to the depth of accumulation in central NC. — Kay Britt

Answer: The storm that produced snow in the Clayton area came in two waves, with the first on Feb 12th leaving behind about 3.5 to 4.5 inches of snow and sleet, followed by the addition of roughly 1-2 tenths of an inch of glaze ice due to t freezing rain that evening and overnight, followed yet again by another half-inch to inch of snow on Thursday the 13th, for a storm total of 4-5 inches (.3 to .4 feet) of snow/sleet and 1-2 tenths of an inch of ice. The Raleigh NWS office has posted nice maps for statewide accumulations from that storm at and
Feb. 21, 2014 | Tags: past weather, snow

Question: The temperature on WRAL's website and the temperature reported on TV are different. For example, 10:20 PM on Feb 12th, the Website says 31 degrees and the temp during the continuous weather coverage shows 27. I assume the Web is more up to date? — Joe Freeman

Answer: On the air, we most often use the most recent temperature report from the Raleigh-Durham airport (which serves as the Raleigh "station of record" for official record-keeping purposes) on current condition scenes and most temperature maps. However, there are also some closer-in maps we show on-air that instead show a Raleigh temperature that is labeled "WRAL-TV." This number comes from a thermometer here at the station in southwest Raleigh, and is updated almost continuously.

The reading from the airport is usually updated hourly instead, and so in addition to differences due to terrain, elevation, clouds, precipitation or frontal zones in the area, there can sometimes be a "time-lag" difference when temperatures are in the process of changing quickly.

On our web site, the number you see in the upper right-hand corner of most pages comes from our studio location. Anytime you'd like to compare it to the most recent observation from RDU, you can do so by clicking the "current conditions" link near the top of any weather page. There you'll see data from WRAL and RDU on the same page, including a time stamp to let you know when the observations were most recently updated.
Feb. 20, 2014 | Tags: general meteorology, instruments,

Question: I notice that when radar shows a mass of rain/snow heading towards the Triangle that frequently a pocket seems to form around the Triangle - with the precipitation moving around the Triangle first - then covering us. Why is that? — Robert Dudley

Answer: Yours was a common question as snow approached the area on Wed, Feb 12 as snow moved in from the south. Dan B writes "Looking at the current Radar (Feb 12, 12:00pm) I notice a nice "horseshoe" like pattern of the snow wrapping around Wake county. This seams llke a strange occurrence, what is causing this anomaly?" and Greg Pahel says "It's 11:49 am and just like yesterday as the weather system approaches from the south a very deep U shape is keeping the Triangle precipitation free while the edges go all the way up to the Virginia border on both sides. What is the cause of this? Heating from the urban area? Something about the topography?"

The answer to all of these is that with certain precipitation systems, dry air in the lower atmosphere may result in rapid evaporation of precipitation before it can reach the ground, so that the initial approaching precipitation shield only exists aloft (a phenomenon called "virga"). As precipitation becomes heavier or continues over the same location for a longer period, the air below the precipitation is gradually moistened until it allows the precipitation above to continue all the way to the surface.

This becomes interesting when trying to interpret radar echoes, since the radar beam is tilted upward a bit and climbs to higher and higher altitudes the farther it extends from the transmitter. In effect, it sweeps out a pattern that forms an invisible cone. Imagine that precipitation covers the entire area swept by the radar, but has a uniform base of 2000 feet above the ground, below which it has all evaporated. In this case, the radar beam will pass through clear air until it climbs to 2000 feet or above, and will only show echoes from precipitation at and above that level, and therefore only beyond the distance at which it reaches that height. This would produce a more or less circular "hole" surrounding the radar that would gradually shrink to nothing if the precipitation base slowly lowered to the surface. In reality, it's often more complex, since the base and intensity of the precipitation may vary from place to place, and also often slopes downward from the leading edge toward the core of the system.

Still, this should give you an idea what you were seeing with the approaching snow. Imagine the forward edge of a sloping layer of precipitation coming in from the south. If it extends far enough to the east and west, then the upward-traveling radar beam will show the elevated precipitation to the east, south and west for a time, while areas close to the radar and north of it remain echo-free (the horseshoe shape one of you mentioned). Since the precipitation base sloped downward toward the south, this horseshoe shaped gap contracted as the snow pushed north and that base dipped closer and closer to the surface, eventually resulting in snow on the ground and a fully filled-in radar image.
Feb. 19, 2014 | Tags: past weather, snow, weather radar

Question: What is an ice pellet? — Tyler

Answer: An ice pellet, also commonly referred to as "sleet," is a raindrop that has fallen through a sufficiently deep layer of sub-freezing air that it freezes into a solid, mainly clear spheroid before reaching the ground. These sleet pellets usually bounce upon striking solid objects like decks, car tops and the like, and make a characteristic kind of tapping sound that is quite unlike that made by falling rain or snow.
Feb. 18, 2014 | Tags: general meteorology, winter weather

Question: How do you obtain a closing ID for your church during inclement weather? — Pastor James Lucas

Answer: You can find all the procedures for obtaining a code for churches, schools and other organizations at the following address on our site:

Feb. 17, 2014 | Tags: cool sites, severe weather, winter weather,

Question: Love the tie. My question is: Why don't you have a real-time map that shows the quality of the major roads (clear, iffy, dangerous). That would help travelers a lot more than a map showing predictions of snowfall. — Anonymous

Answer: We in the WeatherCenter tend to focus on projections of meteorological factors and results, but agree that something like you suggest could be a useful addition to the Traffic section of and passed your comments along. In the mean time, Brian Shrader suggested that might be a helpful link to consult for information along those lines.
Feb. 16, 2014 | Tags: cool sites,

Questions 51 - 60 of 4187.

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