Ask Greg

Recent Questions

Question: How often are you recognized on the street? — Christopher Jamrog

Answer: For most of us, it is a very frequent occurrence. While there are people who do not watch much television or our particular station, many people do, in some cases quite regularly and in others sporadically. In any event, it is quite common for people to say hi and comment on the weather or some aspect of our newscasts, whether on the street, at a restaurant, the bank, or most any other location where people gather within our viewing area. Some of us have even had people come up and say hello while we were on vacation out of state or overseas, or on cruises to the Caribbean or Alaska!
May. 1, 2017 | Tags: careers & education, wral.com

Question: Why is it that each weather forecast varies, depending on what website is opened? — Cathy Portwood

Answer: While most of the basic data and observations used by different weather forecasting observations are similar as to past and current weather conditions and patterns, how they will evolve in the future tends to involve considerable uncertainty in many cases. Especially when complex and rapidly changeable patterns are affecting the area, different forecasters may interpret the future evolution of the weather conditions differently, depending on how they extrapolate short and longer-term trends, how they have seen similar past patterns progress, and which computer-modeled projections or blends of projections they expect to have the best chance of being accurate. There are some patterns that have a higher level of consistency and predictability, and in these weather regimes you'll often find very similar forecasts from different organizations, but in many more variable and volatile weather patterns that involve lower levels of confidence, you'll see more of a spread in forecast temperatures, cloud cover, and precipitation timing, type and/or intensity,
Apr. 30, 2017 | Tags: general meteorology

Question: Why is it relatively common for central NC to receive several inches of rain from one system but incredibly rare (if not impossible) for Central NC to see a system carrying snow with liquid amounts equal to several inches? Wouldn't that mean we receive several feet of snow? — Evan Carter

Answer: The principal difference is that during the winter colder temperatures mean that the atmosphere is carrying less water vapor and is generally less moisture-laden than during the warmer months of the year. In addition, when strong systems in the winter do bring in very significant amounts of moisture, they commonly pull warmer air in at the same time and either prevent snow or limit snowfall totals by changing snow to rain, or at least mixing any frozen precipitation with rain. Of course, we do have very occasional large snowfalls in central NC, but even in those cases, the 15, 20 or 25 inch snowfall totals would equate to a total of around 1-2 inches of liquid water. A system capable of producing rain on the order of 4-8 inches as we saw recently would almost inevitably pull sufficiently warm air into the region to prevent anything close to all of the precipitation falling as snow.
Apr. 29, 2017 | Tags: general meteorology, rain, snow

Question: As you get new information for weather forecasting: new computer programs, websites,or even new computers sometimes; how much training does it take for you and the crew to learn all the new information? — Stephanie Samples

Answer: As with many occupations and professions, it's an ongoing process and the time involved varies depending on the subject and whether there is formal training or more informal, individualized training. We all attempt to stay current on forecasting techniques and general topics in meteorology by taking online training courses, reading journal articles and checking web sites, as applicable. We also attend occasional conferences by organizations like the American Meteorological Society and National Weather Association, and participate in workshops hosted locally by the National Weather Service and NC Emergency Management. On occasion, we've invited local and national meteorologists in for seminars on topics like severe weather forecasting and radar meteorology. We recently switched weather graphics computers and related systems, and as an example in that case, each of us had a number of online training modules to complete individually, followed by three full days with an onsite trainer from the company that produces and supports the system, and then some individual setup and practice time before taking the new system to air.
Apr. 28, 2017 | Tags: careers & education

Question: At my Dad's in Union Level(between Boydton & South Hill), after quarter-size hail the cell passed over and we heard a lengthy sound like a long thunder. Really thought it was the cell not forming into a tornado. My observation: we smelled pine fragrances. Didn't think too much about until some else in South Hill stated the same thing. Is this just a coincidence? — Theresa Shabenas

Answer: The storm you're referring to prompted a tornado warning for Mecklenburg County, VA and points east the afternoon of April 22nd. We hope the storm didn't cause big problems for you. While there didn't turn out to be a tornado reported with the warning for your area, it was a powerful supercell thunderstorm and did manage to blow down some trees and produce some sizable hail in the area. It seems likely the combination of strong winds and some broken pine trees or pine limbs, perhaps aided by hail striking pine needles, led to the enhanced odor of pine that you and some others around the general area found noticeable.
Apr. 27, 2017 | Tags: past weather, severe weather, thunderstorms

Question: Guess who is planting Bermuda on one acre!! That's why we're wondering if there are long range forecasts for say the next month that may give us general ideas on when the rains may be more consistent??!! Sure would help us in seed germination without a huge water bill! — Jennifer Niemiroski

Answer: Our forecasts focus on the next 7-days, and while we do highlight some longer trends occasionally on the air or in posts to our web site, forecasts that are really helpful with the kind of planning you're looking to do remain pretty limited in detail and reliability. We can suggest a few resources to check into that might help some, but they are subject to significant uncertainty and in some cases, by necessity, are quite generalized. First, the Climate Prediction Center issues outlooks for whether the overall odds appear to tilt toward below, near or above normal rainfall for periods 6-10 days, 8-14 days and 3-4 weeks in the future. You can find these maps at www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov, where you can just mouse over the "precipitation" link under each of those categories. You might also find an "ensemble" forecast product at weather.gc.ca/ensemble/naefs/EPSgrams_e.html, where you would use the box at the upper right to select "USA" and "Raleigh." The graph that shows up is a 15-day forecast that includes a precipitation sections. You'd want to look for stretches of time when the yellow boxes are mostly above zero (indicating a good chance of measurable precipitation) frequently over the course of a few days. Good luck!
Apr. 26, 2017 | Tags: cool sites, maps & codes, rain

Question: What time do you go to work? — Jack

Answer: The work schedule here has to accommodate not-quite but almost 24-hour coverage, and of course varies some depending on who might be on vacation or out sick. Typically, Greg arrives around mid-afternoon Monday through Friday, while Mike Maze arrives a little earlier. In the early mornings, Mike Moss or Aimee arrive several hours before the newscasts begin, while Elizabeth is here a bit later. On weekends, Mike Moss is usually in early in the morning, while Aimee usually arrives early to mid-afternoon. During severe or wintry weather, we often switch into a 12 to 13 hour on/off schedule with at least two meteorologists on duty at any given time.
Apr. 25, 2017 | Tags: wral.com

Question: Are we through with the pollen for this spring? I need to clean my screened porch and I hate to do it too soon. — Gregory Burke

Answer: As you may have seen by now in some related questions and answers, this has been an unusual pollen season, presumably due to the early start prompted by very warm temperatures mid-January through February, and then a sustained cold snap in early to mid March that resulted in the March average temperature actually being a little lower than February's. The pine pollen that creates such a coating usually lasts about 2-4 weeks here from beginning to end, but it started in late February and was still being produced over halfway through April. We would imagine it should be winding down quite soon, if it hasn't already when you read this, but confidence is low about exactly when.
Apr. 23, 2017 | Tags: pollen

Question: What is the pollen count? Why don't you show it not only here but also on the TV? — Edward Yatta

Answer: As you noted, the most recent available pollen count can be found through links in the "Weather Resources" section of our web site, along with a link to a pollen levels forecast that can be extended to 5 days. We do show the pollen levels and forecasts on occasion on TV, although it is not something that we include in every weathercast.
Apr. 22, 2017 | Tags: pollen

Question: A large persistent area of blue clutter has appeared on the DualDoppler5000 display, between Durham, Rocky Mount, Goldsboro, Sanford and Roanoke Rapids. There used to be smaller green clutter in the south Durham area, which is gone now. This makes it hard to interpret the display. What is causing it? — Mike Feezor

Answer: The date you asked about was Saturday April 15th. On that morning some scattered showers moved through the area and there was a period where atmospheric soundings showed areas outside the showers had both a temperature inversion and a rapid decrease in water vapor over the lowest 1500-2000 feet above the ground. This appears to have led to significant downward bending (refraction) of radar signals, a form of "anomalous propagation" that can lead to increased intensity of ground returns over a much larger than usual area. We expect this is what you were seeing, and it can indeed make radar interpretation more difficult. In those situations, it is usually a good idea to check radar time lapses to help distinguish moving, organized areas of precipitation from more stationary (or moving, but somewhat random) non-meteorological returns. It can also be helpful to check some different radars that are transmitting from different locations, or to check composite radar imagery that may have some clutter suppression algorithms in place. On our site, in addition to our DualDoppler 5000 displays, you can find "regional radar" displays, a display from our Fayetteville Doppler Radar, and a different composite display in the iControl radar section, which might be helpful in some situations.
Apr. 21, 2017 | Tags: weather radar, wral.com

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