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May 2012 Climate Update

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North Carolina Climate, the monthly newsletter of the State Climate Office of NC, covers the grand opening of the Nature Research Center, student Joseph Taylor's participation in NC State's Undergraduate Research Symposium, and a monthly climate summary for April with impacts across the state.
PDF version available for printing.

 

Grand Opening of the Nature Research Center

The North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences opened its new wing, the Nature Research Center on April 20, 2012. The grand opening was accompanied by a full weekend of activities including dozens of outdoor exhibitors. The NC State Climate Office was there along with about 70,000 visitors. Our booth had a functional mini-ECONet station, working tornado machine, CoCoRaHS rain gage, screens showing current climate conditions, science explanations of weather phenomena, and engagement cards. Our engagement cards asked several questions about NC climate, the answers to which can be found on a special page at our website. We talked with over 250 people throughout the day and perhaps inspired some future climate scientists. It was a fun day had by all climate office volunteers and museum visitors.

Shown here are Corey Davis, Adrienne Wootten, and Joseph Taylor talking with several museum visitors. Our booth drew much attention from museum-goers.

SCO staff and students talking with visitors of the new Nature Research Center

 

NC State Undergraduate Research Symposium

On April 10, 2012 the NC State Undergraduate Research Symposium took place at the McKimmon Center, allowing around 500 participating students to present their research. Joseph Taylor, a junior in the Marine, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences department at NC State, presented a poster on his research on predicting observed soil moisture using statistical modeling. The purpose of his study was to evaluate the accuracy of a soil moisture estimation technique to assist with quality control of ECONet data, as well as the prediction of missing data. Observed hourly averages of soil moisture from each ECONet and USCRN station in North Carolina was used to create a statistical model that can produce predicted values up to 24 hours in advance. With every new observed soil moisture value, the model corrects itself to account for new information.

One day after the symposium, Joseph learned that he and 31 other poster participants were chosen to receive a certificate in recognition of superior achievements in scientific research from Sigma Xi – the Scientific Research Society that honors excellence in scientific investigation in all fields of science and engineering. Below you will find a photo of Joseph on the day of the symposium, as well as a snapshot of his award.

Joseph Taylor at the NCSU Undergraduate Research Symposium

 

Climate Summary for April: The mild month of spring

Temperature and Precipitation by climate division
Departures from Normal for April 2012
Based on Preliminary Data
Temperature and Precipitation Departures from Normal

Compared to the previous month, April 2012 was mild in North Carolina. Average temperatures in many locations, including Raleigh, Greensboro, and Charlotte, actually tied or were cooler than temperatures in March. Even so, average temperatures in April were above normal, especially in western counties. Despite above normal average temperatures, it was still critically cold. Two freeze events in April caused damage to many fruit crops in western NC. While the timing and severity of these freeze events wasn't unusual for April, the very warm conditions in February and especially March caused many fruit crops to emerge very early, which substantially increased the risk of freeze damage.

Precipitation in April was generally near normal, with wetter conditions in the mountains and drier conditions over lower elevations. Much of the Piedmont region was particularly dry in April.

Unlike April of 2011 that had near-record severe weather events, this past April was relatively quiet. There were numerous reports of hail and limited damage from thunderstorm winds, but otherwise a calm month especially in comparison to the more than 30 tornadoes reported in April 2011.

Precipitation for April 2012
Based on estimates from NWS Radar
Data courtesy NWS/NCEP
MPE Precipitation


Precipitation for April 2012: Percent of Normal
Based on estimates from NWS Radar
Data courtesy NWS/NCEP
MPE Precipitation Percent of Normal


Local Storm Reports for April 2012
Preliminary Count of LSRs courtesy National Weather Service
http://www.nc-climate.ncsu.edu/lsrdb/index.php
LSR Summary

 

Impacts to Agriculture and Water Resources

Colder conditions in April caused problems for many fruit growers, especially in western NC. Two freeze events caused damage to many fruit crops. Reports from western NC suggest damage to nearly 40% of the apple crop and potentially higher losses in blackberries and blueberries in the western Piedmont and mountain counties. Rainfall was generally adequate for much of the ongoing planting, but some areas in the Piedmont and Coastal Plain are already reporting low moisture in the fields.

Most surface reservoirs are full, and benefited from a few large rainfall events in March and April. However, groundwater levels and base-flow in the streams are quite low for this time of the year across central and eastern North Carolina. Drought conditions that have been severe across Georgia, South Carolina and Florida may creep into North Carolina during the summer without sufficient rainfall. The current groundwater and stream flow levels are a result of very dry conditions over the past 6 months. This longer-term dryness is raising concerns about possible impacts this summer. Even near-normal precipitation this summer may not provide enough water to keep streams and reservoirs at normal levels. A wet summer may be needed to maintain stream and reservoirs and normal levels.


US Drought Monitor for North Carolina
Courtesy NC DENR Division of Water Resources

Drought Monitor

 

Statewide Summary for April 2012

As part of the monthly newsletter, the SCO provides a basic summary of monthly conditions for ECONet stations. A daily version of this product for all locations that have an automated reporting station is available online at:
http://www.nc-climate.ncsu.edu/cronos/review

Station
Avg Daily
Max Temp
Avg Daily
Min Temp
Total
Rainfall
Avg Daily
Wind Speed
Max Daily
Wind Speed
Vector Avg
Wind
Aurora, NC (AURO)
71.2° F
(-0.4° F)
4 mi
51.6° F
(+2.8° F)
4 mi
2.5 in
2.6 mph
19.1 mph
1 mph
West (279°)
Buckland, NC (BUCK)
70.4° F
(+0.9° F)
15 mi
45.2° F
(+1.6° F)
15 mi
2.9 in
2.4 mph
17.7 mph
0.8 mph
West (276°)
Burnsville, NC (BURN)
65.7° F
(-0.1° F)
8 mi
42.7° F
(+5.7° F)
8 mi
6.3 in
4.7 mph
25.3 mph
3.1 mph
Northwest (305°)
Castle Hayne, NC (CAST)
73.6° F
(-0.9° F)
0 mi
50.8° F
(+1.8° F)
0 mi
1.3 in
3.7 mph
26.3 mph
1.2 mph
West Northwest (284°)
Clayton, NC (CLA2)
72.7° F
(+1° F)
3 mi
46.6° F
(+1.2° F)
3 mi
3.3 in
1.8 mph
17.5 mph
0.7 mph
Northwest (308°)
Clinton, NC (CLIN)
72.8° F
(-0.3° F)
0 mi
50.4° F
(+2° F)
0 mi
1.2 in
4.7 mph
22.8 mph
2 mph
South Southeast (148°)
Durham, NC (DURH)
71.8° F
(+0.5° F)
6 mi
46.8° F
(+1° F)
6 mi
1.8 in
3.2 mph
33.3 mph
1.4 mph
West (265°)
Fletcher, NC (FLET)
70.2° F
(+3.6° F)
0 mi
45.4° F
(+6.4° F)
0 mi
4.6 in
2.8 mph
24.2 mph
1.6 mph
North Northwest (348°)
Goldsboro, NC (GOLD)
72.1° F
(-2.9° F)
5 mi
48.9° F
(-0.8° F)
5 mi
4.2 in
5.2 mph
26.8 mph
1.6 mph
Northwest (307°)
Greensboro, NC (NCAT)
69.8° F
(+0.1° F)
12 mi
47.4° F
(+1.9° F)
12 mi
3.1 in
1.6 mph
20.1 mph
1 mph
West Southwest (258°)
Hamlet, NC (HAML)
74.8° F
(-0.1° F)
4 mi
49.8° F
(+5.1° F)
4 mi
5.1 in
4.1 mph
38.9 mph
1.1 mph
West (281°)
Hendersonville, NC (BEAR)
59.1° F
(-9.9° F)
7 mi
43.5° F
(+3.4° F)
7 mi
1.2 in
11.3 mph
49.3 mph
7.7 mph
West Northwest (299°)
High Point, NC (HIGH)
70.5° F
(-1.8° F)
2 mi
46.7° F
(+0.1° F)
2 mi
2.4 in
2 mph
16.1 mph
0.7 mph
Northwest (314°)
Jackson Springs, NC (JACK)
71.7° F
(-0.4° F)
0 mi
50.7° F
(+2.4° F)
0 mi
4.4 in
5 mph
29.2 mph
1.4 mph
Northwest (309°)
Kinston, NC (KINS)
71.9° F
(-4.3° F)
0 mi
49.1° F
(+1.5° F)
0 mi
2 in
4.6 mph
26.5 mph
2 mph
West Southwest (258°)
Laurel Springs, NC (LAUR)
61.9° F
(+0.8° F)
1 mi
42.2° F
(+7.1° F)
1 mi
1.1 in
5.3 mph
33 mph
2.5 mph
Northwest (304°)
Lewiston, NC (LEWS)
70.4° F
(-1° F)
0 mi
47.2° F
(+1.6° F)
0 mi
2.9 in
5 mph
28.8 mph
1.9 mph
West (276°)
New London, NC (NEWL)
72.6° F
(+1° F)
2 mi
46.9° F
(+3° F)
2 mi
2 in
3.5 mph
21.5 mph
1.2 mph
North Northwest (346°)
Oxford, NC (OXFO)
69.5° F
(-0.5° F)
0 mi
47.5° F
(+4.1° F)
0 mi
3.9 in
3.8 mph
25.9 mph
1.4 mph
West Northwest (283°)
Plymouth, NC (PLYM)
70.3° F
(-3.9° F)
2 mi
47.2° F
(-0.4° F)
2 mi
1.7 in
6.6 mph
27.8 mph
1.9 mph
West Northwest (303°)
Raleigh, NC (LAKE)
70.9° F
(-1.8° F)
0 mi
48.4° F
(+0.3° F)
0 mi
1.5 in
5.4 mph
31.8 mph
2.3 mph
West Northwest (292°)
Reidsville, NC (REID)
69.1° F
(-0.3° F)
0 mi
48.8° F
(+3.3° F)
0 mi
3.6 in
3.9 mph
26.7 mph
1.8 mph
West Northwest (297°)
Rocky Mount, NC (ROCK)
71.7° F
(-0.7° F)
0 mi
47.5° F
(+1.1° F)
0 mi
3.2 in
4.9 mph
45.8 mph
1.4 mph
West Northwest (284°)
Salisbury, NC (SALI)
71.8° F
(+1.8° F)
0 mi
46.5° F
(+2.2° F)
0 mi
2.3 in
3 mph
28.4 mph
1.2 mph
Northwest (320°)
Siler City, NC (SILR)
70.3° F
(-0.7° F)
5 mi
44.4° F
(-1.6° F)
5 mi
2 in
3.8 mph
17.8 mph
1.2 mph
Northwest (313°)
Taylorsville, NC (TAYL)
70.3° F
45.7° F
3.2 in
2.4 mph
21.9 mph
0.9 mph
West Northwest (303°)
Wallace, NC (WILD)
74.1° F
(-2.7° F)
8 mi
49.4° F
(+0.1° F)
8 mi
1.8 in
4.5 mph
27.3 mph
1.4 mph
West (272°)
Waynesville, NC (WAYN)
68.5° F
(+2.6° F)
0 mi
43.2° F
(+5.8° F)
0 mi
5 in
2.4 mph
21.5 mph
1 mph
North (5°)
Whiteville, NC (WHIT)
74.2° F
(-2.2° F)
0 mi
50.6° F
(+2.9° F)
0 mi
2.3 in
2.7 mph
22.1 mph
0.7 mph
West (275°)
Williamston, NC (WILL)
70.9° F
(-0.3° F)
4 mi
47.7° F
(+0.1° F)
4 mi
2.2 in
3.3 mph
21.8 mph
1.4 mph
West (276°)
Legend:
Parameter
Parameter's value approximated from hourly data.
( +/- Departure from normal )
Distance to reference station

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