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The Wet May of 2009

Okay so it seems like it has been a wet Spring when it really has just been near average. That was until May hit, this month will go on record as the 3rd wettest May in the past 34 years. To date(5/29) we have received 7.29” of rainfall at the airport that is 3.99” above average and now makes us 1.53” above for the year(19.72” in 2009).

Wettest Mays in the past 34 years

May 1975 12.48”

May 2003 10.69”

May 2009 7.29”

Digging deeper into the numbers its amazing that this May we have seen more rain then the previous 4 Mays combined! Goes to show you how dry the past few years have been in the Spring.

May 2009                 7.29”

May 2004-2008        6.45”

Some other interesting facts are that we set 2 daily rainfall records this month, May 5th 2.40” and again on May 24th 1.03” (Coca-Cola 600 Sunday).

Other notes both the wet Mays of 2003 and again this May 2009 have been responsible for eliminating drought conditions completely across the Carolinas in both those years.

Charlotte Rainfall wettest & driest months and years. (Source NOAA)


CHARLOTTE, NC 1878 Jan 2009
TRACE OCT 2000 26.23 2001
TRACE OCT 1953 26.91 1986
0.01 MAY 1936 28.61 2007
0.02 OCT 1963 29.71 1925
0.02 SEP 1954 29.88 1933
0.05 SEP 1926 33.63 1941
0.06 SEP 1961 34.27 1988
0.10 OCT 1920 34.46 1951
0.15 JUN 1993 34.71 1963
0.19 SEP 1925 34.74 2000
0.21 MAY 1999 34.75 1950
16.55 JUL 1916 68.44 1884
14.72 OCT 1990 67.07 1936
14.61 AUG 1908 64.60 1886
13.14 AUG 1928 62.82 1901
12.66 SEP 1945 62.63 2003
12.48 MAY 1975 62.09 1975
11.68 JUL 1944 59.90 1880
11.24 DEC 1931 59.09 1944
11.13 MAR 1891 58.35 1885
11.13 SEP 1928 57.09 1883
11.04 JUN 1886 57.04 1979
11.04 MAY 1886

Cold Winter for the Great Lakes

Lake Superior satellite image

The NWS in Marquette MI writes:

Due to the recent cold spell and below normal temperatures for much of the winter of 2008-2009, ice covers nearly all of Lake Superior. Only small areas of open water remain. This image was taken on Tuesday, March 3rd. If arctic air does not return in the next couple of weeks, it is likely that this will be the day of maximum ice cover on Lake Superior for this winter as warmer weather and periods of stronger winds through the end of this week will cause open water areas to expand.



Google Earth images of March 1st Snow Storm

march2009 snow



Another great look at the snow from space!


Notice all the snow showing up 2 day after the storm, all the white except what over the Atlantic is snow cover on the ground!

Macrh 1, 2009 Snowfall Totals

March in like a Lion… I’d say so!

Picture from Air Star 36 over Gaston County, NC

What a  wild Sunday and start to the turbulent month of March. March is often a crazy month and this storm should leave no doubt. I working on compiling all the totals and data and hope to post something later today or tonight. Depends on how busy I get back in the Storm Center.

Here are some amazing facts about the storm, in the first time I have seen this Charlotte set both a record rainfall for the day and a record snowfall for March 1st.

Rainfall 2.18”    (old record 2.17 2007)

Snowfall 4.0”    (old record 3.0” 1969)

All this happened in a 24 hour period on March 1, 2009!

Here’s a quick satellite showing the swath of

snow from space.


Hey you can follow me now on Twitter as well!   Twitter

Guest Blogger

“Watts up with that” is probably one of my favorite blogs around and enjoy reading Anthony’s writings daily, so I’m linking to a great primer on the green house effect explained. Enjoy!

Home Snowmaking with these arctic temperatures

About 3 years ago I decided to make a homemade snowmaker similar to those that are used at the ski resorts in the North Carolina mountains. My wife thought I was a nut but she already knew I was a little off when it came to science and weather. Part of me did it because I love snow and skiing, the other part was because the science of snowmaking fascinated me. It isn’t like taking out your hose on a cold day and just spraying it in the air that just makes ice, to make snow you need just the right combination of compressed air and water. Which is where the science comes in.  When you compress a gas it warms this happens in the atmosphere under high pressure aloft or downsloping winds. Another example is when you pump up tires on your car or bike if you use a hand pump feel the valve after a few pumps it will be warm. Or on an air compressor it get warms as it compresses the air. Well the opposite happens when you decompress a gas like hair spray or compress air to clean your computer. Press the nozzle for a while and the can get cold. Well if you compress air and water together then decompress it you get super cooled water vapor that will turn to snow under the right temperatures and dewpoint conditions. The best are when temperatures are below 28 degrees and the dewpoint is in the teens.  The colder and drier the easier it is to make snow.

Okay building the tee gun is pretty simple and cheap, but you need a good air compressor that is built for continuous running. Which means it usually has oil in the motor to lubricate it. The rest of the parts are available at most hardware stores. I found great plans and information on snowmaking at this site is awesome for amateur snowmakers.


Hers the parts list from


Here is how to assemble the gun



Once you have a goo compressor test out the nozzles and here is what mine looks like.


It’s the real deal check it out!


Here’s a video from a few years ago the very first time I tried it.

So if you have the time and effort to be the most popular Dad in the neighborhood give it a try, it fun and the kids will love it! One word of warning once you start you’ll get a addicted to trying to make more and more snow, just check out the forums under the website. You’ll see how people take snowmaking in the back yard to a whole new levels! Have fun!


Coldest Air in 4 years for the Charlotte area

Arctic air is invading the country this week and most areas will see the coldest air in over 4 years. The Charlotte region hasn’t seen an arctic outbreak like this since 2005. That was the last time we had a high temperatures below the freezing mark. In January 29, 2005 we only had a high of 30 degrees with 1″ of snowfall on that date. This Friday we won’t get the snow but we won’t make it to freezing either. I’m forecasting a high of only 29 degree as the heart of the Arctic air mass will be settling right on top of the Carolinas. Saturday morning we will see a low near 9 above zero a number we haven’t seen either since January 2005. The reason for the arctic outbreak is record snow cover for the northern hemisphere as almost 1.37 million square kilometers more snow cover than the 4th week of January last year, the previous record.

This massive amount of snow cover has allowed huge areas of arctic air to build up over the Alaska, Canada and Siberia which then moves south as the jet stream buckles. Temperatures in Alaska have been brutally cold with Fairbanks being in the -30 to -60 range for the past 4 weeks. One reading in Siberia was as cold as -90 and that air mass is on the move. The snow cover over the mid-west and great lakes helps to keep the air mass cold as it moves south. Normally this air would modify or warm-up a little on the way south but as it travels over snow pack it stays cold.

The result is a cold outbreak that will last into early next week. High temperatures will only be in the 30s and lows in the teens and single digits. The other thing to watch is for the possibility of low pressure developing along the end of the arctic air in the Gulf of Mexico or along the east coast. These storms often form when arctic air hits the warmer water of the Gulf of Mexico and the Gulf Stream and often can bring snow to the mid-south. Something we’ll be watching carefully in the first Warn Storm Center.

Interesting mid week storm

Been watching this storm for the better part of a week and the details of this storms are still not entirely clear. The GFS has been all over the place and while it was the first to pick the storm up it has also has been the most inconsistent. It looks like we will see the potential of wintry weather at the beginning and at the end of this storm. The question is how long each phase lasts.


The event starts of with a weak cold air wedge but not ideal, and one that is going to weaken rapidly by Tuesday afternoon. Which means maybe  wintry mix in the mountains and north of I-40 early Tuesday, but amount will be light and temperatures will warm pretty quickly Tuesday changing everything to rain. The middle of this event will be a cold rain with a small wrinkle Wednesday when a severe threat is possible. 

The middle rain storm then gets very interesting Thursday as another low pressure system forms in the gulf of medico with cold air aloft and some deep south snows are very possible as this low tracks northeast. There could be a brief, but heavy swath of heavy wet snow along I-85 late Thursday along a deformation zone to the northwest of the 700mb low.


Watch he forecast very carefully the next few days and make sure to check for the latest on this potential winter storm.