Spring-like weekend on way after gloomy Friday

Posted January 11, 2013 6:39 a.m. EST
Updated January 11, 2013 5:23 p.m. EST

— Spring-like weather is on its way to central and eastern North Carolina for the weekend, but the final day of the work week will include clouds, moderate temperatures and even spotty rain showers during the first half of the day, WRAL meteorologist Elizabeth Gardner said.

Light showers were falling in several spots across the Triangle at 9 a.m., but rainfall didn't create any major problems during the morning commute.

Rain chances will diminish Friday evening, setting the stage for a weekend of temperatures in the 70s. 

"It's still damp and it's chilly, but the warm air is close," Gardner said at lunchtime. "That warm air will be rolling in from the south and east as the day wears on."

Temperatures were already beginning to rise into the 50s by noon in areas east of Raleigh, a result of the warm air pushing inland.

Rainfall totals for the 24-hour period ending Friday afternoon ranged from less than a quarter-inch in most areas to nearly a third of an inch in Louisburg.

"Overall, we did not end up with impressive rainfall totals," Gardner said.

Southwesterly winds will arrive as well, keeping overnight temperatures near Friday's daytime highs before they climb into the mid-70s by Saturday afternoon. Assuming Raleigh-Durham International Airport sees forecast temperatures, the area will have its first 70-degree day in January since 2008. 

Fog could be an issue early Saturday, Gardner said.  

When Gov. Pat McCrory and his top officials are sworn into office at the old State Capitol Saturday at 11 a.m., they'll be greeted by partly cloudy conditions and temperatures in the upper 60s.

"Don't expect Saturday to dawn bright and sunny," Gardner said. "It will be warm, but it may be the afternoon before we see a lot of the sunshine." 

On Sunday, highs will likely top out around 74 degrees, short of the record high of 78 (2005) but still some 20 to 25 degrees above normal for mid-January. 

Another round of showers will arrive in the Triangle for Monday and Tuesday, helping start a gradual cooling trend that will have daytime temperatures back to normal by late next week.

"Enjoy the warm temperatures this weekend, because right on their heels is this really cold pool of air that will arrive next week," Gardner said. "We'll really start to feel it Tuesday, Wednesday and into Thursday of next week."