What’s up with NC’s weather?

It’s no doubt that North Carolina’s “bipolar” weather, particularly in the Triangle, has intrigued its residents. Frosty snow will cover the roofs of houses one day; warm and sunny weather will prompt outdoor activities the next. The unusual patterns seem to have sparked a question across the state: what’s up with NC’s weather? Well the answer to our puzzling forecast is simple as a jet stream. 

Firstly, let’s go over what exactly is occurring within North Carolina. Throughout 2020 the patterns of temperature have been drastically shifting over small periods of time. Let’s take a look at an example: the temperature range from February 25, 2020 to March 2, 2020. The lowest temperature between these seven days was recorded at below freezing, twenty-five degrees (March 1). The highest temperature recorded between these days was sixty-five degrees (February 25). Overall, there was a forty-degree jump in temperature over the course of only six days. This may sound unusual, but it gets even stranger. Let’s take a look at the forecast recorded from February 16, 2020 to February 22, 2020. On Tuesday, February 18 it was sixty degrees and sunshine. Two days later, on February 20, the temperature was thirty-four degrees and snow was coming down. Over the course of only two days, the forecast went from sunny, sixty-degree weather to freezing, thirty-degree weather with snow. This makes almost no sense. Now the state of North Carolina is wondering: what is behind these weather changes?

As I mentioned earlier, the catalyst powering the extreme weather in North Carolina is actually our proximity to a jet stream, or a fast moving area of air in the atmosphere. Areas in closer distance to jet streams will often end up with extreme temperature variations. North Carolina is one of those areas. There are two jet streams contributing to North Carolina weather: the polar jet and subtropical jet. Up north lies the polar jet; down south lies the subtropical jet. Unfortunately, right in the middle of these streams is North Carolina. The effect of us being right in the middle of  two jet streams is that we’re receiving unusual, drastic weather changes. The migration patterns of these jet streams often vary as well. For example, one day the polar jet may be closer to us and vice versa, leading to frigid days followed directly by warm days. To conclude, we have two jet streams to thank for the unpredictable weather.

All in all the ever-pressing question of what’s wrong with weather in NC isn’t difficult to answer; we don’t have any control over it, but we do have an explanation as to why it’s occurring.  For now though, we never know what the infamous weather of North Carolina may bring. 

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