61 NC counties and 1 VA county are under alert, including Wake, Cumberland, Durham, Johnston, and Orange counties. Details
Published: 2012-07-02 05:21:00
Updated: 2012-07-02 19:00:44
Posted July 2, 2012
Raleigh, N.C. — A three-day string of triple-digit temperatures in North Carolina broke Monday, as highs in the mid-90s cooled the threat of severe weather.
The high in Raleigh reached 94 degrees Monday afternoon, which is above average for July 2, but hardly matches the record-setting heat of the past three days, said WRAL Chief Meteorologist Greg Fishel.
"Everything is relative," he said. "If we hadn't been in the triple digits this weekend, we'd probably be talking about this relentless heat wave, But since we have been so extreme, this actually feels not so bad."
Sweltering temperatures tied the all-time heat record in Raleigh on Friday and Saturday with highs of 105. Two consecutive days of record-tying heat has never happened in North Carolina's history, Fishel said.
"It truly was an unprecedented event," he said.
Daily records were broken on three consecutive days this weekend – 105 on Friday, 105 on Saturday and 101 on Sunday.
Early forecasts for Monday called for another round of heat-fueled storms like those that killed three people on Sunday, but the mercury didn't climb nearly as high as the WRAL meteorologists originally expected.
Though Monday marked a "relative cooldown" in the Triangle, it didn't spell the end of a hot week.
"Make no mistake. (This week) will be hot and humid. It's not going to be a refreshing blast of cold, Arctic air," Fishel said. "But at least we have no triple digits in our forecast."
The hot, unstable air mass will keep the possibility of severe storms alive through the week – including on the Fourth of July, when temperatures will still be sizzling at 97 degrees. By 9 p.m., when most fireworks go off, temperatures will be in the low 80s.
So far, North Carolinians seem to be handling the heat well.
Local hospitals haven't reported a substantial uptick in heat-related injuries and illnesses. This weekend, Wake EMS workers responded to 29 heat-related emergencies, and WakeMed treated a little more than a dozen people for heat-related problems at its four emergency rooms.
"Our population is well educated," said Dr. Erik Manring, with WakeMed Cary. "When you hear it enough and you get an advance warning and stay inside at the heat of the day and do things wisely, you stay out of trouble."
Vehicles on Triangle roads, however, didn't fare so well. AAA Carolinas said they had 7,000 calls across the state over the weekend. About 30 percent of those were heat-related.
Tires can easily go flat in extreme weather because tire pressure fluctuates in the heat, said AAA Carolinas spokesman Tom Crosby. Heat is harder on cars than other types of severe weather, including snow and ice.
People should keep on taking precautions for as long the extreme heat lasts.
"The impacts of heat are cumulative. The more days in a row that you're exposed to intense heat, the more likely you are to succumb to some heat-related illness," said WRAL meteorologist Elizabeth Gardner. "You still don't want to be overdoing it outside today or really any day this week."