Triple-digit heat returns before cold fronts

Posted August 2, 2011
Updated August 4, 2011

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— Triple-digit temperatures made a return to central and eastern North Carolina Wednesday, but a cold front will likely stave them off for the weekend – and hinder the approach of a possible hurricane.

The mercury hit 98 degrees by 4 p.m., falling short of the record for Aug. 3 of 99 degrees at Raleigh-Durham International Airport.

Temperatures hit 101 in Fayetteville and Goldsboro, WRAL meteorologist Mike Maze said.

The heat melted soap and cookies in jars at the farmers market on Fayetteville Street.

Even a vendor for Lumpy's ice cream said he's had to get creative to make sales.

"Once it gets over 95, it's hard to sell ice cream. So this year, we've come up with a plan: fresh fruit on a stick," Buck Buchanan said. "It's fun. It's selling well."

The high is forecast to be just below the century mark Thursday, but it will be more humid, making it feel even hotter than Wednesday, Maze said. A heat advisory has been issued for the Triangle, the Sandhills and much of eastern North Carolina, meaning the heat index could make it feel like 105 to 110 degrees.

Why is Raleigh so hot? Why is Raleigh so hot?

A cold front will blow through the state Thursday afternoon and evening, possibly setting off a blustery storm or two.

Temperatures will drop into the low to mid 90s Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Those days could see stray showers and storms.

Why is Raleigh so hot? 

Ryan Boyles, director of the State Climate Control Office at North Carolina State University, said last month was the hottest July on record at RDU in nearly 100 years. 

"Of the 10 warmest years on record, six of those have occurred in the past decade at RDU," Boyles said. 

The hottest temperatures are in Raleigh because it is more urban, he said. 

"As you get out to rural areas like Oxford, we haven't seen the same level of heat as we've seen in Raleigh," Boyles said. " A lot of that is due to the built-up environment that we've developed over the past 30 (to) 40 years."

Boyles said more asphalt, concrete and buildings with air conditioning units are putting heat into the air. 

"All of that adds up and locally can create an urban heat island effect," Boyles said. 

Will Emily impact NC?

By Sunday, eyes will be turning to Tropical Storm Emily, which had winds of 50 mph and was 1,408 miles southeast of Raleigh late Wednesday.

Wind shear in the upper atmosphere was separating the rain from the center of circulation, knocking the storm down a bit as it stalled near the Dominican Republic, Maze said.

"It has not made that definitive turn to the west and northwest, and the longer it takes to do that, the closer it will get to Cuba and then maybe (pass) over Florida instead of the Bahamas," he said. "The track is really not set in stone."

Latest forecast for Tropical Storm Emily Latest forecast for Tropical Storm Emily

Most models still have Emily traveling north across the Bahamas and up the East Coast, possibly brushing North Carolina before heading out to sea. Other models have it moving over Cuba and past Florida's Gulf Coast, which could bring rain to North Carolina as the system moves inland, Maze said.

If Emily follows the eastern path, he said, a cold front crossing North Carolina this weekend will likely push the storm away from the state while bringing rain to the region.

"It is likely to brush by North Carolina as a very minimal Category 1 hurricane," WRAL meteorologist Elizabeth Gardner said. The winds are forecast to be around 75 mph.

"At the very least, we'd be talking about some beach erosion, maybe some overwash on N.C. Highway 12 along the Outer Banks and certainly some rip current danger," Gardner said. "At worse, we'd be talking about some flooding and wind damage."

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  • Rebelyell55 Aug 3, 2011

    I sure wish that temp. indicator on my computer was wrong. 7:30 and it's 93 degrees? Wooo Weee, it's hot out there. No wonder after I let the dog out he shows up soaking wet. He's lab, loves that water.

  • Cary Proud Aug 3, 2011

    Thank goodness fall is just around the corner

  • donewithecu Aug 3, 2011

    You know after reading many of these comments from what ever story is posted I actually start feeling better. I laugh so hard, and I know everybody is entitled to there opinion. But you gotta stop and wonder! Thanks to all the people who comment funny things you brighten my day!!

  • Ambygirl Aug 3, 2011

    Southern-- I agree about our WRAL weather team! They ROCK!

  • Rebelyell55 Aug 3, 2011

    I've cooled off a little now. My apologies for posting a polictical statement on the weather article. I'm try and behave. Ya'll stay cool out there.

  • Ambygirl Aug 3, 2011

    I LOVE the ignore button! Thanks for the info Sean! See ya 4 dollar gas guy!!

  • southernbythegraceofGOD Aug 3, 2011

    btw i love the weather team, don't be hating on elizabeth, greg and the rest of gang.

  • southernbythegraceofGOD Aug 3, 2011

    geez i thought this was weather article not political, guess the government controls the weather too ? it's hot we all know it's hot crack a cold one and relax maybe it will help to keep you from making political comments on article about the weather, or maybe it maybe make you a little more confused, either way in about 2 hours i'll be having one

  • HeadPro Aug 3, 2011

    This video does a great job of explaining the current heat wave...

  • Bring on the 4 Dollar Gas Aug 3, 2011

    who is sean? Don't see a sean anywhere.

    if he has a problem with the reality of which I speak he obviously needs to elarn how to hit the "go jump" button. That goes for anyone who'd like to join him.

    Now back to the reality at hand, HURRICANE TO BE heading right for us. Thank goodness. We didn't get enough rain to even wet the road last weekend so we need a flood. Yard is dead, garden is toast, power bills are 300+ and I'm sick of the cry wolf forecasts. BOO!