WRAL WeatherCenter Blog

Cold start to December!

Posted December 6, 2010

Visible satellite image from NOAA showing snow on the ground from northwestern NC into the north central Coastal Plain. Image from mid-morning on Sunday, Dec 5, 2010. There are some banded clouds above the snow over western Virginia and the northern Piedmont of our state, and some low clouds above the snow just north of the Pamlico River.

In the most literal sense, I suppose we did NOT start December 2010 cold, with a high of 70 on Wednesday Dec 1, but since then highs have been in the 40s, with some 30s possible for highs the first 3 days of this week, and it appears deep troughing over the eastern U.S., with the attendant funneling of very cold air into our region from the northwest, will be a common pattern into at least the middle of month.

Our first shot of cold air was timed in such a way to take advantage of an upper level disturbance that swept across the region on Saturday, along with a surface low that tracked by just to our south, and the combination gave us a decent shot of rain (south) and snow (north) Saturday afternoon and evening. Snowfall totals varied as a function of temperature, precipitation rate and the degree of melting associated with fairly warm soil temperatures, and ranged from a trace to half an inch or so along the southern and northern periphery of the snow area, a half-inch to an inch for much of the northern half of central NC, and as much as 1-3 inches along a narrower west to east/southeast band running from just north of the Triad over into parts of Nash and Edgecombe counties.

Visible satellite photos from Sunday morning, with a relative absence of clouds over much of the region, clearly showed the whitened ground across northern parts of the state, and I've included two views here, along with a snowfall totals map compiled and published by the Raleigh National Weather Service office.

As for the cold temperatures ahead, we're likely to run about 12-18 degrees below normal for the beginning of this week (with gusty northwest winds to make it feel even colder), and then see some modest recovery toward the weekend. Longer range computer models are now suggesting we may see a brief, stronger warming Saturday night and early Sunday with some showers, but then another plunge toward cold, dry air later Sunday and well into next week. Wrap up!


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  • cookre Dec 14, 2010

    ... and take a look at the precip outlook for Saturday - 320%.

    I guess that means something is really, really, really gonna happen.

  • MzLadySmiling Dec 6, 2010

    Geeze Louise..... This cold is just plain awful....
    I hope everyone can stay warm and be out of this cold...
    Thanx to WRAL for a great team of meteorologists... (sp?)..
    You guys keep us really uptodate with all thats happening... thanx

  • dmccall Dec 6, 2010

    Thank you, Greg Fischel, for restating in your newscasts that last winter was the 6th coldest on record. We had a hot spring thru fall, but that doesn't tell the whole story and people like to ignore it when they make trend assumptions.