North Carolina Climate
A Newsletter of the State Climate Office of North Carolina
A Public Service Center for
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In This Issue...
Professor, Department of Plant Pathology, NC State University
North Carolina is the fourth largest peanut producing state in the country. Peanuts are grown on about 100,000 acres in North Carolina and
production was worth more than $77 million in 2004.
Peanut diseases impose significant costs on peanut farmers. Left uncontrolled, they can cause yield losses of 35% to 50% in a typical
growing season. To control diseases and reduce losses, growers routinely apply fungicides. When leaf spot fungicides are used according
to a calendar-based schedule, six to eight sprays are applied per season at a cost of $7 to $20 per acre sprayed. Sclerotinia blight
control is even more expensive, requiring two or three applications of fungicides that cost $30 to $40 per acre.
Weather-based disease advisories take advantage of the close relationships between disease outbreaks and weather by allowing growers to
skip or delay fungicide sprays during periods that are unfavorable for disease development. Weather-based disease advisories identify
periods when there is little risk of disease because conditions are too dry, hot, or cool for infection.
Depending on the weather during a given year, more than $1 million can be saved annually in North Carolina by use of leaf spot advisories.
Eliminating unnecessary fungicide sprays also saves fuel, reduces vine damage, and prevents spider mite problems caused by excess fungicide use.
Peanut disease advisories were first developed in 1981 by Dr. Jack Bailey in the Department of Plant Pathology at NC State. Early versions
depended on hygrothermographs placed in individual growers' fields for weather data. Disease advisory models, monitoring hardware, and
computer software improved over the years, but maintaining and upgrading these systems was a continual challenge. The need for an advisory
system that is accurate, relatively inexpensive, sustainable, and easy to use was clear.
To address this challenge, we turned to the State Climate Office of North Carolina. The Climate Office's web site provides internet access
to real-time, hourly data from a network of over 200 weather stations throughout North Carolina . In the summers of 2003 and 2004, we began
to issue disease advisories based observations from AgNet stations located in Rocky Mount, Lewiston, Whiteville, Plymouth, Williamston,
and Kinston. Data were downloaded daily into spreadsheets, disease models were applied, and advisories were delivered to county agents via email.
In the summer of 2005, we began to work closely with Mark Brooks, Aaron Sims, Ryan Boyles, Adam Baker and Sethu Raman at the State Climate Office
to extend the delivery of disease advisories to all peanut growing areas of North Carolina . They programmed weather data downloads, disease advisory
algorithms, and automated advisory delivery by e-mail. These disease advisories also include growing degree days, interpretive information, and
statistics that help the user verify the accuracy and timeliness of advisories. Since real-time reporting of weather data is critical for accurate
disease advisories, the State Climate Office staff upgraded their systems to minimize data interruptions, providing timely advisories throughout
Through the efforts of the staff at the State Climate Office, peanut disease advisories were available for 13 locations in 2005. The leaf spot
advisory saved one or two fungicide sprays in most locations.
In the future, the State Climate Office hopes to include more locations and to make advisories accessible on their web site. In addition, our
cooperation with the State Climate Office has provided a foundation for developing similar advisory delivery systems for apples, grapes and
many other economically important crops. As seen from our experience with peanut disease advisories, the cooperative spirit and expertise of
the State Climate Office personnel, and the network of weather stations they maintain, is an outstanding resource for agriculture in North Carolina.
We had one of the busiest research and outreach activities this summer. The SCO hosted six undergraduate students,
three meteorologists (students who graduated in May 2005), and five graduate students. Participating graduate students were: Mathew Simpson
(air quality), Maggie Puryear (evapotranspiration), Becky Eager (sea breeze circulations), Aneela Qureshi (convection initiation) and Mathew
Borkowski (winter storms). Undergraduate students were: Suzanne Schwab and Sherry Pugh (MPE data analysis), Josh Hemperly and Trey Emmons
(climate data analysis), Robb Ellis (database development), and Adam Baker (web development). Meteorologists: Chris Holder (climate data
analysis), Ashley Queen (Sandhills convection), Ashley Frazier (model evaluation). We welcome undergraduate students working in the SCO this
semester: Robb Ellis, Kate Horgan, Suzanne Schwab, Michael Diaz, Jenna Schlobohm, Brandon Inge, and Trey Emmons.
Neil Jacobs (winter storm climatology) graduated with PhD degree in May. Becky Eager and Maggie Puryear graduated with M.S. degrees in the summer.
Twelve scientific papers were presented by the students and staff at the American Meteorological Society Conferences on Applied Meteorology and
Instrumentation in Savannah, GA, in June.
Using the North Carolina Climate Retrieval and Observation Network of the Southeast (NC CRONOS) Database, we have developed weather-based crop
management tools for use by North Carolina farmers for peanut crop. We are now developing such tools for other crops. A high resolution real
time experimental weather forecasting model developed by the SCO makes this tool available in a forecast mode up to 72 hours. SCO staff helped
the NC Emergency management division during Hurricane Ophelia event. One more automated weather station was installed this month in Boone in
collaboration with Appalachian State University bringing the total NC ECONet stations to 28. SCO continues to partner with the North Carolina
Division of Water Resources, Division of Air Quality, and Department of Transportation on several projects critical for the state. More on
these projects in the Spring Newsletter.
At the service of North Carolina,
State Climatologist and Director
Agriculture is one of the top ten revenue-producing industries in North Carolina accounting for 22 percent of the
state's income and employing over 18 percent of the workforce.
Using the ECONet (a weather monitoring network maintained by the SCO) combined with modeling capabilities, the State Climate Office of North
Carolina is developing decision-support tools for the agricultural community.
Disease prevention is an integral part of crop management. Appropriately timed chemical applications can mitigate yield losses by preventing
disease onset, but should only be used when environmental conditions favor disease development. Over-application can exacerbate non-target
This summer, we began working closely with Dr. Barbara Shew (NCSU Department of Plant Pathology and our guest contributor in this newsletter).
The goal is to identify periods of time when fungicide protection is needed for peanut crops based on recent weather conditions, which are
collected by the NC ECONet stations and are available through the NC CRONOS Database at the State Climate Office of North Carolina. Based on
published algorithms, daily advisories for multiple sites are calculated and distributed to growers.
Additional tools include use of high resolution numerical weather forecast models. Forecasts from these models will blend with existing data
from ECONet stations to provide information in locations where observations are not available. We also plan to launch a comprehensive website
focused on weather-based tools for North Carolina agriculture using our NC CRONOS Database. This new site will offer interdisciplinary products
such as the peanut disease advisories.
With extension being a focal point in the State Climate Office mission, innovative products valuable to the agricultural community are being
developed. We are looking forward to working with researchers, growers and county extension agents. Please contact our
office if you're interested in collaborating with us.
One new station has been added to the Environmental and Climate Observing Network (ECONet). The new station was deployed
in Boone , NC , in September in collaboration with Appalachian State University. Data from this new station is now available online via the NC
CRONOS Database. Shown to the right are Ameenulla Syed and Aaron Sims completing the installation of sensors. The inset photo is the entire tower
All eighteen AgNet stations have been upgraded with evapotranspiration (ET) sensors. ET is a measure of the loss of water through evaporation
from the soil and plant transpiration.
Ameenulla Syed, the SCO's Instrumentation Meteorologist, developed a prototype of a rain-gauge cleaning device. At predefined intervals throughout
a week, the device rapidly oscillates inside the funnel of the rain-gauge to remove clogging debris. The "AutoClean" is installed at four stations
and has been functioning well. Pending more testing, plans will be made to install it at additional stations.
Additional upgrades to existing stations are being considered. Such upgrades would include second level winds, temperature, relative humidity, and
multi-level soil moisture measurements. These valuable improvements will provide enhanced data at the stations and will be implemented when funds
Boone AgNet station (direct link to data retrieval)
On the 6th of September 2005, the 15th named storm of the year, Tropical Storm Ophelia, formed near Grand Bahama Island.
Two days later, it was upgraded to a Category 1 Hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Scale with winds near 75 mph and a central pressure of 985 mb.
The Saffir-Simpson Scale measures hurricane intensity by the highest sustained wind speed, and is used to give an estimate of potential flooding
and damage. Category 1 hurricanes are characterized with winds of 74-95 mph. Hurricane Ophelia drifted northward off the coast of Georgia and
South Carolina for the next week.
On Tuesday, September 13th, Ophelia seemed to be heading straight for a landfall between Wilmington and the Outer Banks of North Carolina.
Mandatory evacuations were issued for several counties in North Carolina and all tourists were ordered to leave.
On September 14th, Hurricane Ophelia brushed the North Carolina coast with sustained winds around 90 mph. The highest gust reported from Ophelia
was 84 mph at Bald Head Island . Although winds were strong, the primary concern was from flooding as it looked as though the eye of Ophelia
would remain offshore. Ophelia produced 8 to 18 inches of rainfall in Wilmington and surrounding areas. The storm meandered off the coast for
a couple of days before lifting off to the northeast after being downgraded to a tropical storm.
Preliminary damage estimates range from $19 to $34 million in the coastal counties of North Carolina . With Ophelia's heavy rains and persistent
winds, North Carolina 's crops seem to have been hardest hit. Crop damage estimates across Eastern North Carolina are estimated at $19 million
alone. Hundreds of businesses and homes also took a heavy hit, especially in Onslow , New Brunswick , and New Hanover counties. Topsail beach
also saw heavy erosion due to Hurricane Ophelia. Although this hurricane season has seen multiple major hurricanes (Category 3 and above),
North Carolina has escaped thus far with minimal damage as compared to the Gulf Coast region, which has been devastated by both Hurricane
Katrina and Hurricane Rita.
As before, SCO staff provided assistance to the NC Division of Emergency Management during this storm event.
In May, the Climate Prediction Center (part of NOAA) issued their Atlantic hurricane outlook. A 70% chance of an above-normal
hurricane season was expected. The outlook called for 12-15 name storms; 7-9 of which becoming hurricanes and 3-5 of these becoming major
hurricanes. This was a continuation of above-normal activity that began in 1995. This outlook reflected an expected continuation of warm sea
surface temperatures and ENSO-neutral conditions during the peak hurricane season months (August-October).
In August, this outlook was revised to include 18-21 tropical storms (the mean is 10), with 9-11 becoming hurricanes (mean is 6) and 5-7 of these
becoming major hurricanes (mean is 2-3). Historically, seasons with above-normal levels of overall activity have averaged 2-3 U.S. hurricane
landfalls and 1-2 landfalls in the region around the Caribbean Sea during August-November.
||Average Daily Mean Temperature (F)
||Departure from Normal of Daily Mean Temperature (F)
||Total Precipitation Reported (in)
||Departure from Normal Precipitation (in)
||Percent of Normal Precipitation
|New Bern Airport
December 2005 - February 2006 Temperature Outlook
December 2005 - February 2006 Precipitation Outlook
A = Probability Increase of Likelihood of Above Normal Conditions
B = Probability Increase of Likelihood of Below-Normal Conditions
EC = Equal Chances of Above-, Below-, and Near-Normal Conditions
The NOAA Climate Prediction Center's outlook for the upcoming winter provides little guidance for temperature and precipitation amounts. For
North Carolina, there are equal chances of above-normal, normal, and below-normal conditions. CPC uses a combination of statistical and dynamical
models to produce seasonal climate outlooks. Current observations indicate that neutral ENSO conditions will prevail through Spring 2006.
- NOAA Data Users Workshop, May 11-13, Asheville, NC, Ryan Boyles, Peter Robinson
- SCO Advisory Board Meeting, May 18, Raleigh
- Centennial Campus Middle School Awards Ceremony, May 26, Raleigh , Ryan Boyles
- 15th AMS Conference on Applied Meteorology and 11th AMS Symposium on Meteorological Observations and Instrumentation,
June 20-23, Savannah, GA, Matt Simpson, Becky Eager, Aneela Qureshi, Maggie Puryear, Chris Holder, Suzanne Schwab, Robb Ellis, Mark Brooks,
Aaron Sims, Ameenulla Syed, Ryan Boyles, Sethu Raman
- Annual Meeting of the American Association of State Climatologists, Savannah, GA, June 23-24, Aaron Sims, Ryan Boyles,
- MSNBC-TV interview on Hurricane Dennis, July 10, Sethu Raman
- Presentation on Climate Change and Hurricanes to DENR Library, Raleigh , July 12, Ryan Boyles
- GMU Conference on Atmospheric Tropics and Diffusion, GMU , VA , July 18-19, Becky Eager, Matt Simpson, Sethu Raman
- Agriculture Research Station annual meeting, Asheville , July 20-22, Mark Brooks, Aaron Sims, Ameenulla Syed, Sethu Raman
- Presentation on Climate Change and Hurricanes, Cameron Village Library, Raleigh, July 20, Ryan Boyles
- NBC-17 News panel on Climate Change, July 24, Ryan Boyles
- Fire Weather meeting for DENR Forest Resources, Kinston , July 28, Ryan Boyles
- Annual student presentations to PAMS Deans, July 29
- Interviews for WUNC's "Exploring NC", August 4, Ryan Boyles
- WUNC-TV interview on Hurricane Ophelia, September 13, Sethu Raman
- Installation of ECONet station at Boone , NC , September 16, Ameenulla Syed, Aaron Sims
- FoxNews TV interview on Hurricanes and Global Climate Change, September 22, Sethu Raman
- Open/NET live TV panel on drought in NC, Raleigh , September 27, Ryan Boyles
- Dr. Barabara Shew, NCSU Plant Pathology, May 20
- Rob Gilliam, EPA/NOAA, May 26
- CESE Science Camp, June 9
- EnviroTech Science Camp, June 28
- Marty Zaluski, NCDA Emergency Programs, July 1
- Tom Fransen & Charles Theobald, DENR Water Resources, July 13
- Margit Bucher, Nature Conservancy, August 22
- Stephanie Fauver, NOAA Coastal Services Center , August 25
- Dr. Ted Yamada, YSI, September 21
- Steven Berkowitz and Tim Crissman, DENR Environmental Health, September 21
- David Winwood, Director of Centennial Campus Development