Cold air, possible sleet follow balmy Sunday

Posted December 18, 2016

— Despite the winter solstice being only three days away, balmy temperatures made it felt like spring in the Triangle for most of Sunday.

Temperatures were already in the low 60s around sunrise, and they quickly climbed into the 70s by midday.

Sunday afternoon at Pullen Park, people strolled around in shorts and T-shirts, reminding many of the warm spell the Triangle saw last Christmas.

“It was heaven. I liked it,” said Tiana Galloway.

Last year, Raleigh saw 10 December days with temperatures at or above 70 degrees, including a high temperature of 78 degrees on Christmas Eve. Trees at Kaplan Drive Park were blooming pink two days before the New Year’s Eve acorn drop last year, and cars were definitely not spinning on ice like they did Saturday morning.

By Sunday evening, however, a band of heavy rain moved in causing several minor crashes. A spokesman for Raleigh-Durham International Airport said the rain also caused delays to about 70 percent of outbound flights. The delays ranged between 10 minutes to one hour.

"The rain totals have not been that high, but with wet roads, we have had some accidents this evening," said WRAL meteorologist Aimee Wilmoth.

Sunday marked the first 70-degree day of December 2016 in Raleigh, coming just one day after icy roads and one day before the cold weather is expected to return.

The warm weather was short lived, though, as a cold front began moving through the region at about 3 p.m. As the front moved in, the temperature at Raleigh-Durham International Airport had dropped 9 degrees by 3:30 p.m.

The heaviest band of rain had moved out of the area by about 6 p.m., but Wilmoth said that spotty showers are possible overnight and Monday morning and some sleet could mix in during the morning commute.

"I don't think it's going to be a huge deal because temperatures were so warm today, the roads are warm," Wilmoth said.

In other parts of the country, December is constantly cold but in the south, atypical winter weather is typical.

“It’s wonderful. It was cold yesterday, beautiful today. I love it,” said Cathy Higgenbotham, who recently moved to Raleigh. "I love warm weather. We're tired of snow. I mean, a little snow right at Christmas is nice, but then I'm done with it after that."

The balmy 72 degrees felt by many Sunday afternoon had dropped into the 50s by dinner time, and, overnight, temperatures will slowly continue to decrease. Similar to the temperatures felt during the first part of the weekend, it will be very cold again -- with highs in the low 30s -- for most of Monday.

Things will warm up on Tuesday, but not by much, with highs in the 40s.

Most of the rain should be gone for the remainder of the week, and temperatures will be warmer, in the 50s, by Wednesday.


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