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From the teens to the 70s; NC set up for 3-day roller coaster ride

Posted December 15, 2016
Updated December 16, 2016

— A winter weather roller coaster will take shape over central and eastern North Carolina through the next several days, and it will likely include everything from low temperatures in the teens to high temperatures near 70 degrees and possibly some frozen precipitation.

The big chill begins in earnest Thursday night behind a passing cold front. Temperatures will plummet into the 20s and eventually teens late Thursday and early Friday, WRAL meteorologist Mike Maze said.

"The frigid air has arrived in parts of the Ohio Valley and Northeast, and it's headed our way," he said. "It will be breezy tonight, making those temperatures feel even colder."

Low temperatures could reach the upper teens by the time the sun comes up on the final day of the work week, and they won't climb much during the day. Highs will likely top out in the mid-30s, and clouds will begin to push into the region later in the day.

"Knowing this is a clear air mass, the air is very dry and the winds will be diminishing later tonight, and the fact that the airport tends to radiate very well, we're forecasting temperatures to get down into the teens," said WRAL chief meteorologist Greg Fishel. "Friday we'll see increasing low level and high level clouds through the day and by late in the day."

With the clouds will come some moisture moving back into the region off the Atlantic Ocean. By early Saturday morning, with temperatures still in the upper 20s and low 30s, some rain or freezing rain could fall in parts of the Triangle, especially from Raleigh north and west, Maze said.

Damage from freezing rain or freezing drizzle shouldn't be an issue, as it wouldn't not be enough to affect travel or power outages.

"If we do get any rain or freezing precipitation, it will likely be very late Friday night through the early-morning hours Saturday, ending before daybreak," he said. "The key thing here is that will likely be very light and sporadic, so not everyone will see it. We could have a brief round of glazing, so perhaps we'll see problems on bridges and overpasses very late Friday night and before 6 a.m. Saturday."

Temperatures will rise steadily through the morning on Saturday, topping out around 40 degrees by the afternoon.

On Sunday, daytime highs will be at least 20 degrees warmer and top out near 70 degrees, about 20 degrees warmer than late December averages.

"It's going to be an amazing change between late Friday and Sunday," Maze said. "There may be some brief icy spots, very briefly Saturday morning, and then the temperatures will continue to rise."

The roller coaster doesn't stop there, though. On Monday, highs will be back in the upper 30s and low 40s as another round of rain reaches the area.

"It's the beginning and the end of the forecast that will be the same. It's the details in between that are so extreme," Fishel said.

Dangerously cold air reaches parts of Midwest, Northeast

Plunging temperatures and gusty winds made their way Thursday into the Northeastern U.S., the next victim in the path of dangerously cold temperatures to hit the country.

A strong Arctic cold front moved across the region with temperatures falling throughout the day and commuters, schools and outdoor workers slowing down, girding up, and taking precautions.

Vermont public safety officials warned residents to limit their time outdoors at least through Friday with dangerous wind chills of minus-35 in the forecast. Some schools and government offices closed early in upstate New York ahead of lake-effect snow expected to bring 1 to 2 feet.

In western Pennsylvania, lake-effect snow bands were blamed for slick roads and poor visibility. Fifty-nine vehicles crashed in a snowy pileup and three people were hurt. The crash was one of three that shut down different stretches of Interstate 80.

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