'Wild temperature ride' expected as wintry weather moves in
Posted November 25, 2013
Raleigh, N.C. — Winter weather advisories will take effect at 2 a.m. Tuesday for several North Carolina counties – including Orange and Person – as a storm system slides into the region.
The system, which grounded flights and blanketed parts of the Southwest in snow over the weekend, is expected to pummel the state with freezing rain and create icy spots in some areas.
Orange and Person county schools have posted a two-hour delayed start for Tuesday.
Although rain could foul plans for thousands of Thanksgiving travelers, there's little chance of severe weather, WRAL Chief Meteorologist Greg Fishel said.
Still, the complex weather pattern is expected to create bizarre temperature fluctuations over a matter of hours, he said.
"The thing we are really watching is that we could have a 25- to 30-degree temperature spread, across one county, from tomorrow afternoon into the wee hours of Wednesday morning," he said. "It's going to be a wild temperature ride as we head into tomorrow night and early Wednesday," he said.
Rain will start falling late Monday, adding moisture to dry air that has settled over the region in the past few days.
"When you drop precipitation into dry air, the temperature comes down, the dew point comes up," Fishel said. "Where they meet is where the temperature ends up settling."
Most of the wintry mix will stay north and west of the Triangle, with Raleigh more likely to see a rainout. As much as three inches of rain could fall and flooding is possible in low-lying areas.
Temperatures are likely to climb between midnight and dawn Tuesday. Then warm air from the Atlantic Ocean will sweep in and modify temperatures. By 1 p.m., it may be in the 30s in Raleigh but in the 50s in points south.
As the warm air flows into the Triangle, temperatures "will scratch and claw and do whatever it can" to get into the 50s or even the 60s Tuesday afternoon. Then the mercury will start falling again.
On Wednesday, the busiest travel day of the calendar year, it will again be miserably wet, windy and cold. An overnight low of 40 is expected, and the high will only hit 45.
Thanksgiving Day should be dry and mostly sunny, but the winter chill will stick around. A high of 40 is in the forecast for Raleigh.
"Sunshine will return Thanksgiving Day, but the temperatures won't rebound at all," WRAL meteorologist Elizabeth Gardner said.