Near record warmth today...

>> Friday, April 02, 2010

Highs will surge in the mid to upper 80s today under a sunny sky. The GSP airport down in the Upstate of South Carolina set a new record high yesterday, and I think several record highs around the region could fall today. Record highs today are as follows....

Greensboro: 87
Charlotte: 86
Asheville: 87
GSP: 84
RDU: 90

The Greensboro, Charlotte, and GSP record highs have a good chance of being tied or broken today.

For the Easter weekend, we will see some mid and high level clouds at times, but still lots of sunshine overall. A stray shower can't be ruled out in the western mountains, but the Piedmont to the coast will remain dry. Around the Piedmont, highs tomorrow will be in the lower 80s with upper 70s to lower 80s Easter Sunday.

If you are heading to sunrise services Sunday morning, temps will be in the 50s.

We will continue to see lots of 80s for highs Monday through Wednesday next week before a stronger cold front brings some showers and cooler temps toward the end of next week.

Everyone have a safe and blessed Easter weekend....


Palm Sundays, tornadoes, and a passionate plea

>> Thursday, April 01, 2010

For those of you that don't know, I spent the first 24 years of my life growing up, going to college, and then doing television weather in what is called "Dixie Alley." Almost everyone has heard of Tornado Alley...the area in the Plains states that has the greatest number or tornadoes in the US. But while Tornado Alley has more total tornadoes than Dixie Alley, Dixie Alley has more strong and violent tornadoes, and accordingly, more tornado fatalities, than any other part of the country. Dixie Alley runs from Arkansas and Louisiana through Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, and Georgia.

At any rate, I can never think of Palm Sunday without thinking of tornadoes. This past Sunday, Palm Sunday, we had a significant tornado outbreak here in the Carolinas, including an EF 2 and an EF 3. Over 600 homes were damaged in the EF 3 tornado alone, and it is a miracle that no life-threatening injuries occurred.

Palm Sunday in 1920 featured a nasty tornado outbreak stretching from the Midwest to the Deep South. Over 380 people lost their lives that day.

Palm Sunday in 1965 featured another deadly tornado outbreak in the Midwest. 271 people were killed and 1500 people were injured.

Then there is the Palm Sunday outbreak of 1994. 27 tornadoes tore through Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina that day. I was still growing up in Alabama, living at home. I remember distinctly the severe weather came in two waves that day. One wave moved through from mid to late morning, and a second wave later in the afternoon.

I can remember how terribly warm and muggy it felt through the early afternoon hours between the rounds of severe weather. Temperatures soared into the lower 80s. As the second wave of severe weather moved through, I can remember being terrified, sitting in our downstairs hallway....that was our tornado safety place. We had the television on so that we could hear the severe weather coverage, and I had a large bowl of grapes, of which I nervously ate every single one while the storm roared outside. I vividly remember hearing the hail absolutely pound the roof and windows, and I fully expected the sounds of snapping wood and breaking glass to follow suit. But it didn't, the storm pulled away, and all we had was a white ground from the hail, tree branches down, and some shingles missing.

I am pretty sure that was the last time I was really scared during a thunderstorm. But what we experienced was nothing.

42 people died that day in the various tornadoes, and no tragedy was greater than what occurred at Goshen United Methodist Church in eastern Alabama.

Morning worship was taking place at the church, and it was a packed house....142 people in attendance to see their annual Easter drama. An F-4 tornado ripped into the sanctuary at 11:39am, right in the middle of the morning worship service. The building was destroyed, and 20 people lost their lives, including the pastor's daughter.

The really devastating aspect of this storm is that there was a tornado warning issued 12 minutes prior to the tornado hitting the church, but the people inside never knew there was even a warning issued. The warning process from the Birmingham NWS was excellent, and 12 minutes of lead time, especially in 1994, is about all you could ask for. Had the warning been known to the people in the church, the outcome would likely have been much different. The sanctuary was destroyed, but the foyer, where the nursery was located, as well as the Sunday School areas were still standing. Many, if not all, of the fatalities might have been avoided.

Please don't think I am criticizing. I am not. At that point, few churches and businesses had reliable ways of hearing warnings. But that does not have to be the case.

I say this at every single school talk or event speech I give. Every home, business, and place of worship should have a NOAA weather radio. Gone are the days when weather radios would sound for every warning in any county surrounding your area. If you purchase a NOAA weather radio with S.A.M.E. technology, you can program the radio to only sound for your individual county.

With our tornado event this past Sunday, the warning process generally worked very well. The warnings from the NWS offices were very good, and the media did a good job of timely distributing the information through the event. The High Point tornado had an incredible lead time of 29 minutes.

Most people in the homes that sustained heavy damage indicated that they knew in advance that a tornado warning had been issued and were in their place of safety.

However, what if this tornado outbreak had taken place at 2am? How many people in High Point would have been aware an EF 3 tornado was heading their way? How many people in Davidson county would have known and EF 2 was moving in?

It is always our goal at News 14 Carolina to be live on the air whenever severe weather is occurring....whether it be 2am, 2pm, or anything in between. However, we cannot reach through your TV and wake you up in the middle of the night. We cannot let people in church or at work know a warning is in effect. That is the job of the NOAA weather radio.

Please, find a way to get a NOAA weather video.....every church, business, and home should have one.

You can watch a great piece on the Goshen tragedy that was put together by the folks at ABC 33/40 in Birmingham by clicking here.


Approaching record foolin'

April has arrived, and along with it come.....late May or early June temps. We will see lots of sunshine today and tomorrow with today's highs in the mid 80s in many spots with mid to upper 80s tomorrow for Good Friday.

The record highs are as follows....



For the Easter weekend, a weakening cold front will drop in here Saturday, but I still think some clouds are all we will get out of that. Highs should be in the lower 80s Saturday and upper 70s to near 80 Easter Sunday.

Highs will warm well up into the 80s again by Tuesday next week before a stronger cold front eventually moves through sometime during the second half of next week. See the video for details on the timing uncertainty there.

Be sure and check back in here a little later on today...I am working on a post regarding my past experiences with Palm Sunday tornado outbreaks.


Robert's post....

>> Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Today and tomorrow will be about perfect. The rest of the weekend will be hard to beat as well. Temperatures throughout the entire forecast area today will make it to the mid 70s with lows in the upper 40s.

Tomorrow and Friday appear to make a run at the record high temperature. For Greensboro the record for April 1st and 2nd is 85 and 87. As of right now we are forecasting 83 and 87 which should be right at or close to the record highs set in 1986 and 1964.

When forecasting temperatures to a single or a couple degrees it is very difficult and highly variable. Many things influence these temperatures from height thickness which is based on temperatures throughout a pressure level in the upper atmosphere. Temperature advection from another region or pressure level can warm or cool an area through mixing of the planetary boundary level. Slight changes in wind speed or direction can bump or lower a high any given day. Cloud coverage and albedo levels of local topography greatly influence solar radiation absorption. Albedo level is basically a number for local topography ability to reflect or act as a pure black-body radiation source. Snow being bright white, reflects sunlight and would have a high albedo close to 1, and Asphalt being black, absorbs the sun's radiation leading to a low albedo number closer to 0. Urban areas with large areas of development retain heat better and longer than rural areas, leading to the nickname “heat islands”.

On given days when we have a purely westerly flow, which is not the case the next few days (south westerly flow), we receive extra warming through subsidence. When the westerly flow comes down the Appalachians the generalized air parcel in this case is pressurized adiabatically and warmed. It's like a pressure cooker where the air flow is slightly warmed by pressure. This phenomenon is seen quite frequently out west and is known as the Chinook or the Santa Ana winds depending on your location east or west of the Rockies. Chinook, which is a Pacific Northwest Native American word meaning snow eater, greatly influences wild fire season west of the Rockies. The Santa Ana winds are a local easterly wind that down slope off the Sierra Nevada's affecting California. Not only does this down sloping wind warm, the air parcel also loses moisture leaving it dry. The warming combined with low humidity levels is a nightmare for firefighters and has to be monitored closely during the season.

Robert Elvington


Warmer and warmer.....

Conditions continue to warm up. We will see sunshine continuing through the rest of the work week with highs getting warmer.....70s today, 80s tomorrow though Saturday.

Very quiet weather continues to unfold across our region. While we began the day with fairly cool conditions, we will continue our warming trend today with a sunny sky and highs in the mid 70s.

We will remain sunny the next several days, and the warming trend will continue as well. Highs tomorrow will be in the low to mid 80s with mid to upper 80s for Good Friday.

A fizzling cold front will drop into the region over the Easter weekend, but I anticipate no rain with the front and only a slight cool down behind it for Easter Sunday. However, even then, we are still looking at upper 70s or so for highs.

Low 80s should be back with us Monday and Tuesday before a stronger cold front moves through toward the middle of next week. There are some indications that some cooler temps could settle in for a while as we head into mid-April.


Kevin's chase....

>> Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Intern Kevin Smith went storm spotting during our severe weather outbreak Sunday evening. Here is a technical discussion he typed up....

I was on the storm that passed over Meck County around 8:30 and intercepted it in the Concord area when it blew up. Helicity was out the roof with shear readings around 100 knots! Looking at the skew-t I had the hodograph had nice curvature as well which again means very favorable shear for supercell genesis. The SWEAT index, which i was getting off RUC from model extractor, was showing SWEAT index of around 400 which is around severe to tornadic. MUCAPE was high enough to get some decent energy and CIN was low so it was easy to tap into the CAPE the was present at that time. Lifted Index was significantly negative I forgot what the exact number was but it was definitely in the severe range, must have had significant divergence aloft. If i remember correctly when the storm passed over
Concord at around 9 it had a pretty nice inflow notch associated with it. Bulk Richardson values were less than 45 which indicates supercell convection and it takes into account CAPE and Shear.

I'm not sure if the cell was under a right entrance or left exit region of a jet streak to maximize vertical motion for some reason i couldn't obtain a upper air map while i was quickly looking at all the ohter indices. These storms also seemed to have some good tilt to them thanks to great shear values which gave some of the cells a more defined FFD and RFD. I obtained all these values off model extractor and SPC along with accuweather pro. Hail was around quarter size, with windgust easily over 60 mph. Rainfall rates were around 4" an hour which is pretty incredible. Wish i could have made it up to High Point to catch that EF-3 but i wouldnt want to mess with that at night. Hopefully spring will bring us more days with interesting weather. We are the new tornado ally!

Kevin Smith


Sunshine, getting warmer.....

In today's video, a look at the location and intensity of the tornadoes from Sunday evening, plus sunshine and increasingly warm weather for the rest of this Easter week....

We will see lots of sunshine today with highs in the upper 60s for most. It will be a bit breezy with winds out of the northwest gusting to 25mph or so at times.

We are entering a very quiet, warm, and sunny stretch of weather. Look for mid 70s tomorrow with sunshine, then highs warm into the 80s Thursday through Saturday.

A weakening cold front will approach Easter Sunday, but again this morning, I have left shower chances out of the forecast. Highs Sunday through Tuesday will drop back into the 70s.


Calmer times ahead....

>> Monday, March 29, 2010

A detailed look at the science behind our severe weather outbreak Sunday afternoon and evening, plus a look at what's ahead....

An outbreak of tornadic thunderstorms roared through the Carolinas into central Virginia Sunday evening. Lots of damage reports have come in, especially around High Point and portions of Davidson county as well. Belmont in Gaston county also received some pretty significant damage from an apparent tornado from the first storm of the event.

Please see the video above for a look at what made this system tick....

Our News 14 Carolina news crews are gathering information this morning and will provide much more information on this severe weather event as the day unfolds today. The NWS will conduct storm surveys today, but I anticipate much of the damage was in fact due to tornadoes.

As today unfolds, we will likely see additional scattered showers and a few storms develop this afternoon. Any storms that manage to develop could produce some hail due to very cold temperatures aloft.

Tomorrow will be the first in a series of dry weather days. I expect 60s for highs tomorrow with breezy conditions. By Wednesday, highs will warm into the 70s. How about mid 80s for Thursday-Saturday....all with a sunny sky.

Clouds will increase for Easter Sunday, but I have left the forecast dry for the time being.

I meant to post this earlier...showed this video on the air this morning. Video of a tornado just on the Davidson county side of the Davidson/ Rowan county line...along I-85.


5:20pm update....

>> Sunday, March 28, 2010

Tornado Watch is hoisted for much of the region through this evening. Some pretty mean storms have begun to fire, and it sure looks like severe weather possibilities are with us into this evening.

Stay with News 14 Carolina on television for the very latest.

This is a scenario where a few waves of showers and storms are possible over the next several hours. Damaging winds, large hail, and isolated tornadoes are all possible.

Stay alert!


Quick Sunday morning post...

Need to keep a close eye on severe weather potential from late today through tonight. A potent storm system is moving our way, and while our airmass is quite stable this morning, a pretty strong low level jet will kick in today and provide at least some degree of instability. How much is a question mark.

Showers will become an increasing possibility as the day wears on along and west/north of I-85. The thunderstorm potential really comes into play in the Piedmont zones late today into tonight.

The Storm Prediction Center has outlined much of the area in a 'slight' risk area for severe weather with this system. See the map below.

One key to watch today will be dewpoints. If dewpoints make it up into the mid 50s or higher, then the severe weather threat could be significant. If they stay below that threshold, then the severe weather threat will be more limited.

If we do see the severe threat materialize, damaging winds, some large hail, and even a few tornadoes would be possible.

If you have a NOAA weather radio (which I strongly encourage every home, business, and place of worship to have one), go ahead and have it in the alert position today and tonight.

And of course, keep in touch with News 14 Carolina on television. As always, we will be there with you to walk you through any potential active weather.


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