WRAL WeatherCenter Blog

Ernesto Wrap-up...

Posted September 4, 2006

Well, looking back at the Ernesto outlook I posted last Monday, the overall scenario that seemed most likely but still uncertain at the time played out fairly close to the way it appeared then, although a day or so later it was looking as if the track of the storm would shift the heaviest rains a bit farther west into central NC. As we moved on into Wednesday and Thursday, however, most computer models shifted the track a little farther east again and indicated the heaviest rains would occur over the coastal plain, which did indeed turn out to be the case. The interaction with a stalled front in the region also played out in terms of the temperature field across the state, as Friday highs ranged from 60s over the Piedmont to around 80 in eastern parts of our viewing area. In Raleigh, we had a high on Friday of 70 degrees, tying the record for coolest high on September 1st. That occurred just after midnight, though, and our afternoon temperatures hovered in the mid to upper 60s as Ernesto moved away to the northeast and a cool northwesterly flow captured low-level air on the northwest side of the frontal boundary and swept it in our direction.

As for major impacts, Ernesto produced on the order of 3-7 inches of rain for most of our coastal plain counties, but amounts fell off rather quickly farther west, with 1-3 inches around the Triangle and even less over the western Piedmont. Luckily, at least some parts of the western Piedmont received significant rainfall Wednesday night in association with the frontal boundary that moved in prior to Ernesto's approach. Eastern coastal plain sections of the state racked up the highest rainfall totals, with 6-10 inches common there.

As far as the wind numbers go, top honors for highest gusts in the local area went to Seymour Johnson AFB in Goldsboro, with a top gust of 53 mph, while Fayetteville recorded a 48 mph gust and RDU topped out at 37 mph.

For more detailed information on impacts from Ernesto around central and eastern NC, see these storm reports from the Raleigh, Newport (Morehead City), Wilmington and Wakefield, VA NWS offices, and this report from the Hydrometeorological Prediction Center detailing rainfall impacts along the entire east coast.

In Ernesto's wake, most of us enjoyed a beautiful Labor Day weekend, but we're in the process of becoming a bit more unsettled this afternoon and especially tomorrow, as an approaching upper level trough strengthens and activates a frontal boundary over the region, and induces a wave or two of surface low pressure along that same front that should trigger a few periods of scattered to briefly numerous showers and storms...
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