Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Tornado Alley in the Carolinas?

When you think about tornado alley, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Nebraska probably come to mind. Based on a recent research study from the University of Akron, we may have to think again.

Image courtesy of Michael Frates, University of Akron

That research by Michael Frates, a graduate assistant, took a look at long track tornadoes (20 miles or longer) of EF3 strength or stronger.

Image courtesy of Michael Frates, University of Akron

His results show that an area classified as "Dixie Alley" including northern Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama has just as many if not more strong, long track tornadoes compared to the region traditionally referred to as "Tornado Alley."

An area of eastern North Carolina classified as "Carolina Alley" follows closely behind "Tornado Alley" and "Dixie Alley." Take a look at the image below from the National Weather Service of all tornado tracks in the Carolinas since 1950.

You'll notice an area just south and east of Raleigh closely following the I-95 corridor that has more frequent long track tornadoes. In fact, there area few examples of devastating tornadoes in this area in recent memory. An outbreak of tornadoes less than two years ago in November 2008 included an EF3 tornado that caused destruction like this near Elm City, NC....

Photo courtesy of the National Weather Service - Raleigh.

Several other tornadoes were reported that same night including one in Kenly...

The infamous Carolinas Outbreak of 1984 also occurred in this same area. That was one of the most deadly tornado outbreaks in North Carolina history. Fifty seven people were killed in North and South Carolina. An estimated 800 were injured.

All of this just goes to remind us that deadly severe weather can and does happen here in North Carolina. While we enjoy nice spring weather, our weather isn't always this nice. It's best to be prepared and know what to do for the next time our weather takes a violent turn.

Lee Ringer

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

2010 Hurricane Season Forecast

The 2010 Atlantic hurricane season is just about a month away and most forecasts indicate this year will be more active than the last. Forecasters at North Carolina State University in Raleigh just released their forecast this week calling for an above normal season. That agrees with an earlier forecast from Colorado State University.

The NC State forecast led by tropical meteorology professor Dr. Lian Xie calls for 14 to 19 named storms to develop in the Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico, or Caribbean with 7 to 11 of those becoming hurricanes. Forecasters have gone one step beyond just predicting the number of storms and are forecasting the chance a storm could make landfall along the coast. An 80 percent chance is given for a named storm (tropical storm or stronger) to make landfall somewhere from the east coast of Florida to North Carolina. There is a 70 percent chance that storm would be a hurricane. Along the Gulf coast, there is an 80 percent chance for a hurricane to make landfall.

Having studied tropical meteorology taught by Dr. Xie, I have great respect for his forecast. However, we must remember it is just that -- a forecast with uncertainty. It only takes one storm making landfall to cause excessive damage affecting many people. We must watch the tropics closely from June through November this and every hurricane season.

It has been some time since a major hurricane impacted the North Carolina coast. It is impossible to say whether or not that will change this year, but it is best to be ready just in case. In the coming weeks, News 14 Carolina and Carolina on Demand will air a series on how North Carolina residents can prepare for hurricane season. Then stay tuned for our tropical updates starting June 1 at :21 after the hour every hour through November.

Read more on the outlook for the 2010 hurricane season from NCSU forecasters at

Lee Ringer

Saturday, April 24, 2010

“Vital New Roadmap” Underscores Need to Study Climate Change, Human Health Links..from NOAA

“Vital New Roadmap” Underscores Need to Study Climate Change, Human Health Links

Asthma, Cancer, Weather Disaster-Related Illnesses Cited Among Concerns

The vulnerability of people to the health effects of climate change is the focus of a report released today by an NIH-led federal interagency group that includes NOAA. The report, “A Human Health Perspective on Climate Change,” calls for coordinating federal research to better understand climate’s impact on human health and identifying how these impacts can be most effectively addressed. The report was published by Environmental Health Perspectives and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.

The report indicates what is known and the significant knowledge gaps in our understanding of the consequences of climate change on 11 major illness categories, including cancer, cardiovascular disease and stroke, asthma and other respiratory disorders, food-borne diseases and nutrition, weather and heat-related fatalities, and water and vector-borne infectious diseases.

“To mitigate and adapt to the health effects of climate change, we must first understand them. This report is a vital new roadmap for doing that,” said Jane Lubchenco, Ph.D., under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator. “There is an urgent need to get started, and I am pleased that we can bring NOAA climate science and NOAA capabilities in linking ocean and human health and a range of other monitoring and prediction tools to the table.”

Health experts from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and NOAA contributed to the new report. Research recommendations include examining how diseases in marine mammals might be linked to human health; investigating how climate change might contaminate seafood, beaches and drinking water; and understanding the impact of atmospheric changes on heat waves and air-borne diseases. There are questions about the effects of increased rainfall and extreme weather events on sewage discharges and run-off and what this will mean to human health. Integrating human, terrestrial and aquatic animal health surveillance with environmental monitoring is recommended to better understand emerging health risks like Lyme disease, West Nile virus, malaria, and toxins from marine algae.

To address disaster planning and management, the report encourages research aimed at strengthening healthcare and emergency services, especially when events such as floods, drought and wildfires can affect human health both during and after an event. The report also identifies the need for more effective early warning systems providing, for example, an alert to those with cardiovascular disease on extreme heat days or when air pollution is high. Other issues include susceptible and displaced populations; public health and health care infrastructure; essential capacities and skills, particularly for modeling and prediction; the integration of climate observation networks with health impact and surveillance tools, and communication and education.

NOAA understands and predicts changes in the Earth's environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and conserves and manages our coastal and marine resources. Visit us at or on Facebook at

On the Web:

Additional recommendations and the full report are available at:

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Melting Snow...

Remember all that snow across the US this winter? Not much of it remains on the ground now especially on the east coast. This is the latest snow cover map across North America from Tuesday, April 13.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Getting ready to plant that garden? Check this first!

We have a delightful weekend coming up across North Carolina! I've heard a number of friends already say that they plan on working in the garden. Before putting out those tender plants, you might want to check this zonal map of average last freeze dates across North Carolina.

Based on statistics, there is a 10% chance that a frost will occur outside of the dates listed. Whether or not a specific plant will be damaged depends on the type of plant, the maturity of the plant, the temperature, the duration, as well as many other variables.

The forecast for Easter weekend calls for well above normal temperatures and dry weather. There is a chance of rain late next week. Your latest Weather on the Ones forecast has the details to take you through the weekend or through next week on News 14 Carolina.