WRAL WeatherCenter Blog

Severe thunderstorms: Not just for spring and summer

Posted March 1, 2010 5:24 a.m. EST
Updated February 7, 2011 8:07 p.m. EST

Severe thunderstorms are common in central North Carolina. They can happen any time of the year, but we are most likely to see them during our spring and summer months. But, don't let the calendar fool you! Just last month we had an overnight tornado watch and several severe thunderstorm warnings.

Severe thunderstorms often combine the threat of almost all severe weather-related events. We can see damaging hail, flooding, lightning, tornadoes, and wind damage with these storms. The actual definition of a severe thunderstorm is a storm capable of producing winds over 58 mph, one-inch hail, and sometimes tornadoes.

Because of the damage these storms can cause, all of us here in the weather department spend extra time preparing for the possibility of these storms every time the atmosphere looks like it could get ugly. We come in early, plan to stay late, make sure DUALDoppler5000 is ready to go, and see to it that the cameras are set for us to cut into programming. During severe weather outbreaks, we are fully staffed with at least two meteorologists on duty. Severe weather not only threatens property, but it is powerful enough to threaten lives as well. That's why understanding severe weather is vital.

We use all different types of models to actually show us what's current in the atmosphere and what may happen several hours down the road. We monitor this information to help us narrow down when and where storms are most likely to hit. Of course, we are talking science and mother nature, so there is room for error. For example, it may look as though Roxboro is under the gun, but the storm that goes severe is the one in Raleigh. We know this can happen and that's why we monitor each and every storm.

You can stay safe and ahead of the game by knowing a few facts. When a Severe Thunderstorm Watch is issued in our area, please pay close attention to WRAL-TV or go to wral.com to see the latest track of the storm. A watch is issued when conditions are prime for severe weather to develop. Also, keep an eye on the sky, because conditions could deteriorate quickly.

When a Severe Thunderstorm Warning is issued, that means a storm has met the criteria for being severe and you need to seek shelter immediately. There is nothing more important to us than keeping you safe from severe weather. That's our job and we take it very seriously. That's why you can count on us to keep you ahead of the storm.

One way to stay ahead of severe weather is with WRAL WeatherCall. For a nominal fee, WRAL WeatherCall will monitor your home, workplace, or child's school 24 hours per day, 7 days per week. If severe weather threatens, Greg Fishel will call you with information about the storm and how to stay safe. Learn more about WRAL WeatherCall and sign up today!