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Question: We received a message stating we had a Baron Tornado Warning. What did this mean? — Judy Warf

Answer: We found in following up that you were located in the White Hill area of Lee County when this occurred, when some strong to severe storms were scattered around the region on Sunday, June 5th. There were not any tornado warnings issued by the National Weather Service that day, and in fact no tornadoes occurred. However, we suspect that you saw an alert by way of the WRAL Weather App, on which we collaborate with a company called Baron Services. In addition to the standard watches and warnings from NWS, the app includes the option to have notifications when radar and lightning data indicate the approach of especially strong storms, storms with lightning, and storms that indicate rotation based on radar velocity data. In this case, the app might post an alert for a "Twisting storm approaching," accompanied by a value for the "Baron Tornado Index," or BTI. That index is a 0-10 scale indicating how likely a storm is to be producing a tornado. We noticed that while no severe thunderstorm or tornado warning was ever issued for the Lee County area that day, there was a cell southwest of Lee moving that direction that had some low to mid-level rotation associated with it for a short time. Detection and automated analysis of that cell may have resulted in the message you saw.
Jun. 10, 2016 | Tags: preparedness, severe weather, tornadoes

Question: Are you all nervous for tomorrow's weather and how bad is it supposed to be exactly? — Erica

Answer: Your question was sent on Saturday June 4th asking about the following Sunday. We typically use "Ask Greg" as more of a general meteorological information resource rather than for short-term questions about upcoming weather, and we aren't able to post quick-turnaround responses here in most cases. While that leaves this as a sort of "after the fact" answer, we thought it would be worthwhile to note that the situation was one that didn't exactly make us "nervous," but we certainly thought enough of it to make staffing and coverage plans that would help ensure that we had the opportunity to cover all the on-air, online and radio responsibilities that would arise in the case of severe weather. The way in which the weather variables were expected to combine on Sunday was such that it didn't appear that severe weather would be widespread, but that there could be enough instances to qualify as more than isolated, and in addition there were clues that the greatest severe threat would be localized damaging downburst winds, with the potential for large hail and tornadoes considerably smaller. As it turned out, severe storms were quite isolated for a large part of the area, but were more numerous across northern parts of the viewing area in northern NC and southern VA. The dominant form of severe weather did indeed turn out to be straight-line gusts, with no tornadoes reported and only a couple of reports of large hail, both concentrated in a storm over Cumberland County.
Jun. 9, 2016 | Tags: severe weather

Question: I noticed the evening of June 5th in the 6:30 to 7PM time frame that Doppler 5000 showed clear over my location and all of Wake County, while radar showed rain from light to heavy over most of Wake county. Why the difference? — John Peeler

Answer: Unfortunately we had a transmitter outage on the DualDoppler 5000 so that it was not detecting precipitation at that time. When this happens, we try to provide an alternate image in that section of our web site, but occasionally there may be a time delay between loss of the DualDoppler 5000 data and replacement with other radar imagery (in this instance, the outage occurred in a unique form that prevented the usual automated replacement with alternate data - we apologize for the inconvenience). One of the reasons we maintain multiple radar imagery sources on our web site and among the layers that can be selected in the iControl radar display in our app, is that any radar is subject to an occasional outage or some down time for maintenence, so we provide some redundancy or complementary coverage by having the ability to view DualDoppler 5000, our Fayetteville Doppler, or a national radar composite made from National Weather Service radar data. In our apps and on the iControl section of our web site, you can use the "layers/options" button to switch between those sources in the event one seems to be out of service.
Jun. 8, 2016 | Tags: weather radar, wral.com

Question: Memorial Day 2016 (Monday 30th), I was not there but arrived to our neighborhood pool a couple of hours after this event. Apparently there was a huge crack of lightning somewhere around 4:00, give or take maybe an hour, so loud and bright that when I arrived literally six or seven people independently had to tell me about this. One lady said she was home when it happened and ran to the back to see what was on fire, but nothing. People at the pool said it streaked over them and thought it must have hit somewhere very close by but nobody could confirm this. Everyone said it was unlike anything they'd seen and TREMENDOUSLY loud! I was just surprised that so many people were talking about it a couple hours later. Any idea if this was anything unusual? This happened in Lakepark Neighborhood off of Lead Mine Rd. — Harry Helmer

Answer: Unfortunately, we can't easily check archived lightning data for that time, but we did take a look at radar echoes through the period and would surmise that at the time of the strike, it had not been raining at the pool for a while, and there may not have been much more than a sprinkle in the couple of hours leading up to the event. However, a rather intense and very fast-growing convective cell did develop west-northwest of the area and by 4 PM was located around 8-10 miles away, drifting westward. While lightning strikes that far from the parent cloud are not common, they do happen (sometimes as far away as twenty miles!), most commonly with a bolt that originates in the upper portions of the storm cloud and branches out to the side. The strikes often have a positive polarity, transferring positive charge to the surface, and generally carry much more current than the more common negative polarity strikes. This can make for a more impressive strike in general (as well as being more dangerous and prone to start fires), and would be especially attention-getting in the absence of rain, which leaves the sound of the thunder on its own, rather than somewhat masked or muted as it can be sometimes by moderate or heavy rainfall. If we're on track with this speculation, it would make sense that the people on site were impressed!
Jun. 7, 2016 | Tags: lightning, past weather, thunderstorms

Question: I realize it's Summer now but over my 28-year career in the HVAC wholesale business, I've been faced with a gentleman's argument of how many times does the RTP area actually hit Zero degrees Fahrenheit? — Bradley Ryan

Answer: It's a very infrequent occurrence here, but in records for Raleigh stretching back to 1887, we have dipped to zero F or below on eight days. There was one day each in 1899, 1917, 1977 and 1996, and two days each in 1970 and 1985. The most recent three examples were a low of -3 degrees F on Jan 20, 1985 and then on the very next day a low of -9 degrees, the all-time record for Raleigh. Since that very cold outbreak, there was one additional day with a low of 0 F that occurred on Feb 5, 1996.
Jun. 6, 2016 | Tags: cold, past weather, records/extremes

Question: I noticed for the rolling five year weather chart we are 3 feet above normal. Does this become the "new normal" at some point? — Thomas Best

Answer: It does indeed, if it is in fact part of a longer term pattern that sustains itself. However, by design, "normal" is intended to resist sharp changes that might be overly influenced by short-term stretches of unusual weather. As you noted, if you averaged it out, the past 5-year period runs about 7.3 inches per year above normal. The term "normal" in this case is the 30-year average ending with the most recent "zero" year, so current normal annual rainfall is the average yearly amount for the period 1981-2010. The next update to the normal values will come shortly after we finish out the year 2020, and if we were to continue with the higher rainfall amounts of the past 5 years, it would produce a noticeable jump in the resulting normal value, but the magnitude of that jump would still be restrained a bit by data from the previous two decades. The definition of normal was chosen to balance the need for reasonably current values of normal for various weather parameters against the need for some stability in those numbers and some resistance to undue influence of short-term fluctuations, as noted earlier.
Jun. 5, 2016 | Tags: normals, past weather, rain

Question: I am 77 years old and live in New York City. I have a lung condition, I am going to the gym every day but I can't be in humid weather. I usually leave for the gym at 7am. Today it was already very humid at that time. Question: is the air quality better for me at 5am? — Uli Bernhardt

Answer: We can't be sure what type of lung condition you're referring to, and you may want to check with your doctor as to whether it is absolute humidity (how much water vapor is in the air) or relative humidity (how near the air is to being saturated with water vapor at a given temperature) that is more important for your condition. If it is relative humidity, then early morning, whether 5 AM or 7 AM, will both tend to feature rather high levels, while relative humidity tends to be lowest during the afternoon when temperatures are warmest. Absolute humidity, on the other hand, doesn't follow much of a standard trend during the day, but changes with passing weather systems that bring in drier or wetter airmasses. You can use the hourly forecast link on our main weather page to see a graph of expected relative humidity (labeled humidity in the selector box) or absolute humidity (indicated by the dew point, a separate selection in that graph display), to look for periods when the relative humidity or the dew point are lowest. While the forecast on our page defaults to Raleigh for a new visitor, you can set it to your location by typing New York, NY into the box above the 7-day forecast and clicking the "change" button.
Jun. 4, 2016 | Tags: cool sites, humidity/dew point, weather & health

Question: It seems like several years ago we had numerous 90-degree days in May whereas this year we have had a limited number (not sure how many). Is this May month (2016) cooler perhaps? — Brenda

Answer: May can be quite variable in how quickly we warm up, and therefore in terms of the number of days reaching 90 degrees or higher. In records for Raleigh stretching back to 1887, there have been 33 years in which May has had no days that reached 90, and 2016 will go in the books as one of those (we did come close, reaching 87 twice, 88 once and 89 once this year). We've gone as many as 4 consecutive years without a 90-degree reading in May, from 1970-1973. Over the entire period since 1887, the average number of 90-degree days in May is 3, and we have had as many as 11 in the month (in both 1941 and 1944), while some recent notable numbers include 7 days in 2010 and 8 days in 2007. The lack of 90-degree days this year goes along with a May that has featured significant cloudiness and above-normal rainfall. With that, our high temperatures have averaged a little over 2 degrees below normal, while low temperatures have averaged about a degree and a half above normal for the month.
Jun. 3, 2016 | Tags: heat, normals, past weather, records/extremes

Question: On the WRAL news mobile app, if I touch the three horizontal bars in the upper left corner, I can choose the WEATHER link. From there I can choose the detailed forecast. Could you arrange to add a direct link to the same detailed forecast on the WRAL Weather Alert mobile app? — Jim Bernhagen

Answer: The detailed forecast you're referring to in the WRAL News App is a text page containing our written descriptions of how we expect the weather to evolve, with information on the temperature and winds, along with the overall chance of precipitation for day and night periods. While it isn't in exactly the same format, you can quickly get to that same information through the WRAL Weather Alert app. Again, you would tap the layers icon (the horizontal bars) at the upper left, then choose the "WRAL WeatherCenter" link. That will take you directly to a summarized 7-day forecast. By tapping any day of that forecast, you'll see the same text descriptions as in the other app, but in a format that includes a button to switch between the daytime and overnight forecast information for each day.
Jun. 2, 2016 | Tags: maps & codes, wral.com

Question: What was the amount of rainfall for the 7 days ending with 5-24-16? — Martin Johnson

Answer: We weren't sure of your location, but for the seven days comprising May 18-24, 2016, we checked rainfall totals for the RDU sirport and at two State Climate Office stations around Raleigh (at Reedy Creek Rd and along Lake Wheeler Rd) and found totals there of .71, .98 and 1.1 inches, respectively. We also looked over a contour map of gauge-adjusted radar rainfall estimates for that period from the National Weather Service's Precipitation Analysis Page. The map indicated around .5-1" for much of Wake County, while area to the west varied between .5 and 1.5", and areas to the east around the I-95 corridor generally received amounts in the .1-.5" range. You can check daily archived maps of this sort showing 8AM-8AM precipitation totals at water.weather.gov/precip/.
Jun. 1, 2016 | Tags: cool sites, past weather, rain

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