Raleigh, N.C. — Humid air and high temperatures in the mid-90s will usher in the official start of summer on Wednesday, making the mild spring weather that's dominated central North Carolina the past week a distant memory, WRAL meteorologist Elizabeth Gardner said.
"We're really changing things up because we have had such a mild spring, but this is the first day of summer," she said. "We'll be hazy, hot and humid today, and like most summer days, we could see an isolated thunderstorm pop up in spots."
Wednesday's high will top out around 94 degrees, and the mercury could reach 96 degrees Thursday afternoon, the hottest day of the next week. The average daily high for June 20 is 86 degrees, and the record, set in 1964 is 99 degrees.
Adding to the uncomfortable temperatures Wednesday will be high humidity and dew points in the upper 60s, Gardner said.
"We really get the sticky air when the dew points get up this high," she said. "Be careful outside Wednesday with this extra heat and humidity, because most of us aren't going to be used to it quite yet."
Because of the wildfire burning in the Croatan National Forest, air quality will also be something to watch Wednesday, especially to the south and east of the Triangle.
On Tuesday, thick smoke blanketed communities between New Bern and Havelock. The N.C. Division of Air Quality said Tuesday that particle pollution in the Triangle had increased but wasn't expected to rise to unhealthy levels.
Temperatures will drop a few degrees late in the week and over the weekend, with highs Saturday and Sunday topping out near 90. Afternoon thunderstorms will be possible throughout the weekend and first part of next week, Gardner said.
"We're in that summer pattern now," she said.