GREENSBORO, N.C. (WGHP) – Because it’s peak summer – with soaring temperatures and a higher probability of volatile storms – we tend to talk a lot about the weather. So let’s talk about the weather.
As storm warnings beep across our TV screens and cell phones, we realize that taking care against heat stroke and sheltering from storms are even more important priorities. And we just finished July, which was the hottest month on the planet in the history of recorded temperatures.
We also know that North Carolina thus far has escaped the worst of the searing, extreme heat that has threatened people from Arizona to Alabama. But that can change at a moment’s notice.
A recent report by the American Meteorological Society about climate change explains why heat waves, floods and droughts have grown in recent years. “It’s a reminder that the risk of extreme events is growing, and they’re affecting every corner of the world,” says Sarah Kapnick, the chief scientist at NOAA told The Washington Post.
The report says that the Earth is “already about 2 degrees Fahrenheit hotter than it was in the late 1800s.”
That said, here are five things to note about August weather in North Carolina. We bet a couple of them will surprise you.
1. Last August was a little worse.
In August 2022, average temperatures for the southeast region, which includes North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, George and Florida and Alabama, were above normal, and the minimum temps were well above normal. That’s based on data compiled by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
That data also suggests that average temperatures specifically for North Carolina and the counties that include most of the Piedmont Triad were within the normal range, although minimums were above average. Precipitation was average to below average.
2. Yes, our weekend was hotter than usual.
If want to use Greensboro as your barometer metaphorically – and as your thermometer literally – then here are hard numbers: Temperatures in August range from 68 to 89 on average, so anything you record that varies from that would mean an increase over the norm. On Saturday and Sunday, highs were higher, 90 and 92 respectively. The low Monday was 71, and the day’s average was 81.5, which is 3.2 degrees above normal. That’s a significant statistical variance.
The rainy and cloudy days of last week were significantly cooler. The rest of this week is expected to be right about average (reaching as high as 90). July, by the way, is the hottest month in the Triad, ranging from 70 to 91.
3. Sometimes we dampen our own expectations.
There were rainy days last week, and big storms struck on Sunday and are predicted for today, but August is far from the rainiest month in Greensboro.
Using the percentage of probability of rain as your comparative, August’s 26.6% makes it only the eighth most likely month to have precipitation on a given day.
March is most likely (36.3%), only slightly better than May (36%) and February (33.1%). Those famous April showers only are likely on 32.7% of days, and December checks in at 30.5%. But August ranks as the third rainiest month based on the number of days seeing rain, with 11.2 (we’ve seen rain about five out of the first seven days, though). July (13.1) and June (11.3) are the only higher totals. The average monthly total is 3.5 inches.
4. Our tropical storm season may accelerate.
Hurricane season has been underway since June 1 and has been mild so far, with only four named storms (Emily and Franklin would be next, for what it’s worth). NOAA is forecasting a “near normal” hurricane season, with about 3 in 10 forecasts predicting above or below that range. The center continues to predict 12-17 named storms that develop into 5-9 hurricanes.
Since 1851, North Carolina has recorded 56 hurricanes, tied with Louisiana for the third highest number behind Florida (120) and Texas (66), or nearly 1 out of 5 named hurricanes.
There’s still the probability this year, scientists say, of one to four major hurricanes. AccuWeather is predicting that “a series of tropical disturbances, often referred to as tropical waves, continues to move westward off the coast of Africa. … When they emerge over the Atlantic Ocean, they can develop into an organized tropical system.” Only Hurricane Don (a Category 1 storm in early July) has reached the minimum hurricane status of 70 miles per hour sustained winds.
5. All is good at the beach.
If you want to know why tourism officials push legislators to keep North Carolina’s school opening date at the end of the month, it’s this: No matter all of those forecasts and predictions, August is seen as one of the best days to visit a beach. BeachWeather.com says the average beach temperature is 81 degrees, and it’s rated as a peak season for swimming and tanning (if those are your things). Sea temperatures in August are also at their peak, averaging 75 degrees, and the average wind speed is 7 mph, with a maximum average of about 16. Here’s the official take from BeachWeather: “August is hot and sunny but overcast at times, with long bright days. August is quite dry but with occasional showers, though there are many days without rain. … Visit in June, July, September, for the best beach weather.”