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Recent Questions

Question: Thank you so much for updating the iControl radar intervals when looping. It used to be 10 minutes, now is 5, so thank you for listening to my request a while back. I was wondering if you can add an icon or add-on to the map for a quick refresh tab. — Ali

Answer: We're glad you like the shorter interval on lapsing the national radar composites in iControl. As you noted, it runs at about a 5-minute time step now. Also, as a reminder, in situation where fast-moving systems make an even shorter time step desirable, you can switch the iControl to view our Dual Doppler 5000 instead of the national composite using the layers icon in the upper right corner of the map. Those images are usually only 1-2 minutes apart, so make for a rather smooth, detailed animation. As for a refresh tab, our web staff tells us that they are unlikely to be able to add that. They suggest that instead, you save the iControl view that you're most interested in. If you then do a page refresh, you should see the latest available radar image on your preferred map view.
May. 4, 2016 | Tags: weather radar,

Question: Where are you now that stations changed? Miss you. — Patricia Pender

Answer: We're not sure if you're referring to the recent switch from CBS to NBC in our network affiliation, but if so, it hasn't changed where you'll find us on TV. We remain on WRAL-TV, Channel 5 over the air, and whichever location we were on your cable or satellite provider. Our national and prime time programming changed, but our local programming and newscasts are largely the same as it has been in the past. One change is that the 4 PM newscast has moved from Fox 50 to WRAL.
May. 2, 2016 | Tags:

Question: Since 95 degrees is used by many HVAC companies when sizing units for homes, I would like to know how many days on average does temperature reach 95 degrees or more in Johnston County? — J.W.Harris

Answer: We checked climate records from both the cooperative observing site at Smithfield in Johnston County and the RDU airport. Based on the current period for calculating 30-year "normal" climate values (1981-2010), the normal number of days reaching 95 or higher in Smithfield is 14, and RDU matched that number.

We also looked at the long-term records, which are fairly complete for Raleigh back to 1887 and for Smithfield back to 1913. Averaged through 2015, those numbers are 16 for Smithfield and 10 for RDU. At Smithfield, the greatest number of 95-plus degree days was 47 in 1954, while the lowest was 0 in 1982.
May. 1, 2016 | Tags: heat, normals, past weather, records/extremes

Question: You said on a recent 5:00pm newscast that you have never left the continent once except when you went to Hawaii 31 years ago. Didn't you go to Antarctica a couple of years ago? — Billy Vick

Answer: The "arctic" part is correct, but you're thinking about the opposite pole! The trip you have in mind was in March of 2015, to Barrow, Alaska. It was a long haul, indeed, but nonetheless remains a part of the North American continent. You can review some details of the trip, or see the resulting documentary, at
Apr. 30, 2016 | Tags: climate change,

Question: Did you get to go to Paris on 4/22 to witness 175 nations signing the climate accord legislation? I couldn't think of a better media representative from the USA to witness this historic event. — Laurence DeCarolis

Answer: That day was spent as just a routine on-air shift here at the station, but your sentiment is appreciated! One point to note, though - while the text of the accord was put together and adopted in Paris in December of last year, the signing ceremony which occurred on Earth Day this year was held at the United Nations headquarters in New York.
Apr. 29, 2016 | Tags: climate change

Question: What causes acid rain? — Sam

Answer: It's worth noting that while pure, distilled water has a pH of 7.0, meaning neither acidic (pH less than 7) or basic (pH greater than 7), "natural" rainwater is actually somewhat acidic, with a pH of around 5.6 due to absorption of atmospheric carbon dioxide and the resulting formation of some carbonic acid (along with some very small amounts of other acids associated with natural sources of precursors like volcanoes and forest fires).

"Acid rain" in the sense of a pollutant that can cause problems is rain that has had its pH lowered considerably below that of natural rain, with the main culprits being sulfur dioxide and oxides of nitrogen resulting from combustion of fossil fuels for power production, transportation, heating and industrial uses. These gases can combine with water and other atmospheric components to form sulfuric and nitric acid compounds that are then carried to the surface in liquid or frozen precipitation particles. Some of the acid can also attach to solid particles in the atmosphere, such as dust, and reach the ground in a "dry deposition" process.
Apr. 28, 2016 | Tags: air quality, rain, visibility/fog/dust

Question: Would it be possible for you to send me the rainfall for the month of September 2015? As well as rainfall in 27608 on October 1st? — Heather Eberhardt

Answer: We checked the rainfall reports from the Raleigh-Durham airport for those time frames as a nearby "official" reading, and also looked up numbers from a "personal Weather Station" site located in the part of Raleigh (inside the Beltline north) that the zip code referred to. We found that RDU had 4.81 inches for September 2015 and .34 inch on October 1st, while the "5 Points" PWS reported 3.67 inches for September and .07 inch on October 1st. We also noted, in case it is also important to your query, that on October 2nd RDU received 2.07 inches and the PWS 1.77 inches.
Apr. 27, 2016 | Tags: past weather, rain

Question: Where can I find historical water temperature data for Jordan Lake? I can find current, but not archived data. Please help. — Bob Liposchak

Answer: We aren't aware of a readily available archive for any given date in the past, and aren't sure how far back you need to go. However, there is a product from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that will at least show you temperature readings for weekdays over the past six months. That product, and other current/historical lake data, can be found through, where you would click the "Elevation, Rainfall... past 180 days" link to find those temperatures. There is also a "contact" link on the page, where you might be able to find a phone number or e-mail link you could use to check whether older reports may be available in some form.
Apr. 26, 2016 | Tags: lakes and rivers

Question: I just looked at the forecast for Wilmington, and tonight it says "Smoke." What in the world is "Smoke" as a weather forecast? — Dana Emory

Answer: Usually that would be an indication that there is a fire somewhere in the vicinity that is expected to produce noticeable amounts of smoke that will be transported over the area in question by the expected combination of wind speed, wind direction and lower atmospheric temperature structure. On Monday and Tuesday of the week you wrote in, two wildfires had just become active in eastern NC, one in Dare and Hyde Counties (the Whipping Creek fire) and one (the Clemmons Road fire) in Brunswick County, closer to Wilmington. Depending on weather conditions and air trajectories, either could have contributed some smoke to the Wilmington region.
Apr. 25, 2016 | Tags: general meteorology, maps & codes

Question: I'm doing a science project on El Nino and I was wondering what exactly is El Nino and how does it affect our Earth? — Emily P.

Answer: El Nino is a periodic warming of the upper-level ocean waters, and particularly the sea surface temperatures, over the central and eastern equatorial Pacific. It is part of an overall Pacific system of varying ocean temperatures and surface pressures called the "El Nino-Southern Oscillation," or ENSO, and exerts some reasonably predictable influences on cloud cover and precipitation patterns in the Pacific that further translate into changes in the prevalent positions of upper-level atmospheric circulations on a global scale. These changes can result in characteristic impacts on prevailing weather conditions for some parts of the planet.

That's a quick overview of El Nino in a nutshell, but there really isn't room here for a comprehensive description of many facets of the ENSO system. For that, we'd refer you to some good resources available online, where you can find much more detailed information, along with helpful maps and other graphics. First, the State Climate Office of NC has a nice section about global weather patterns including ENSO, and some information about how those patterns affect our state. You can find that at Another site worth visiting is a roundup of current ENSO conditions and influences at the Climate Prediction Center, at At that link, you may also like to explore some of the information available through the "educational materials" link. Good luck on your project!
Apr. 24, 2016 | Tags: careers & education, cool sites, el nino/la nina

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