Published: 2012-12-21 05:45:00
Updated: 2012-12-21 14:43:39
Posted December 21, 2012
Raleigh, N.C. — Clouds and rain showers associated with a mass cold front moved off the North Carolina coast early Friday, leading into a cloudy and windy afternoon with gusts over 40 mph.
Sustained winds increased across the area all morning, and central North Carolina remained under a wind advisory from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., WRAL meteorologist Mike Moss said. A wind advisory means frequent wind gusts of 40 mph are expected.
"People driving around today in high-profile SUVs and tractor-trailers today need to use a little extra caution, and we could see a few tree limbs blow down in spots," Moss said. "If you're traveling into the mountains, winds there could gust up to 60 mph."
High winds suspended the Hatteras-Ocracoke ferry route Friday and Saturday. The wind gusts in combination with shallow water depth in the inlet made it unsafe to cross. The Pamlico Sound route from Swan Quarter and Cedar Island to Ocracoke may also be suspended.
Snow flurries were spotted across western North Carolina. WRAL meteorologist Nate Johnson said the highest chance for snow flurries was west of the Triangle.
"This is not a big deal," Johnson said. "There won't be any accumulation."
Sunshine won't help the temperatures climb much, as afternoon highs will struggle to climb out of the 40s on the first official day of winter. The wind will make it feel even more bitter, Moss said.
"We could see some variable cloudiness as the upper level low driving this massive front moves north of us," he said. "We've got a high pressure system working toward us from Texas, so we'll see a dry air mass building in during the day. Our dew points began falling last night and will continue to drop."
Friday night will be clear, breezy and cold, as lows dip to near freezing and winds between 15 and 20 mph linger across the area.
Saturday's weather will be beautiful, as abundant sunshine will push temperatures to near 50 degrees. Clouds will return to the area Sunday and likely stay put through Christmas, Moss said.
Christmas Day is likely to be mostly cloudy with highs in low 50s, Johnson said. After Christmas Day, temperatures will rise into the 60s.
"We don't know if we're going to see any rain out of the clouds Monday and Tuesday, but we'll call it mostly cloudy," Moss said. "Temperatures will be in the mid-50s for the first half of next week."
No snow in sight
Those in the Triangle with dreams of a white Christmas will be disappointed, Moss said. The holiday forecast calls for mostly cloudy skies and mild temperatures in the 50s. There is no snow in the forecast for Raleigh for as far as the forecast models can see.