Cool spring keeps severe weather at bay

Posted May 8, 2013

— The overall weather pattern that has kept temperatures below normal across North Carolina this spring has also moderated the number of severe weather outbreaks, WRAL Chief Meteorologist Greg Fishel said.

In 2011, North Carolina recorded 66 tornadoes, including the outbreak April 16, 2011, which claimed dozens of lives and did millions of dollars in damage. That was an especially damaging spring nationwide. The National Weather Service counted 1,691 tornadoes in the season. Tornado in downtown Raleigh April 2011 tornadoes

Since then, there has been a huge trend downward in tornadic activity, Fishel said.

The primary difference is the location of a trough of cool air. In 2011, that trough set up across the middle of the United States. "East of the axis of the trough is where rising motion, clouds and precipitation can lead to thunderstorms and tornadoes," Fishel said.

This spring, the trough is along the East Coast, keeping North Carolina considerably cooler and the rising motion offshore over the Atlantic Ocean.

"That pattern may be breaking down a little bit," Fishel said. "That means slowly but surely in the coming weeks we may see a greater chance for severe thunderstorms as summer arrives." 

An area of low pressure that has capped clouds and kept temperatures below normal through the early part of this week is expected to clear out overnight, with much warmer temperatures in the forecast for Thursday, Fishel said. The moisture in the atmosphere also brings the possibility of patchy fog overnight and into Thursday morning.

Thursday will be the first day in about two weeks that temperatures will actually be above the seasonal norm.

"A weak ridge of high pressure is moving in aloft, which will help keep us mainly dry and warm for a couple of days. It could get quite toasty here on Friday before the next cold front arrives Saturday," he said.


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  • simplelogic May 9, 2013

    I don't know about the rest of you, but in Cary we got quite a nice little thunderstorm last night with some pretty heavy rain for much for the predictions of amateurs. :-)

  • BubbaDukeforPresident May 9, 2013

    Sick of the rain. Air conditioner doesn't work in the car, but I can stand the heat better than I can function in the cold. Would love to spend the winters in Key West and the rest of the year in the long as the sun comes out.

  • turkeydance May 8, 2013

    ok. so far we've been cheated out of 1/2 of spring. last year,
    we missed winter (oh yeah). here's to summer starting soon.
    yes, i love HOT/HUMID...otherwise EVERYone would move here.

  • TarHeelBrit May 8, 2013

    I'm getting a bit tired of the NWS forecasting 60%-70%-up too 100% rain and thunderstorms when all we get is a few sprinkles. Is it any wonder people don't listen to or heed NWS warnings?

  • Obamacare survives May 8, 2013

    Not buying it either. Our rain for the day occured this morning. That's all folks.

  • WralCensorsAreBias May 8, 2013

    Not buying it. You can only cry wolf but so many times.