Cold air rushes in behind powerful front

Posted January 31, 2013 5:53 a.m. EST
Updated January 31, 2013 7:45 a.m. EST

— A powerful storm system with an incredible wind field raced off the North Carolina coast early Thursday after it blasted the Triangle with a quick hit of heavy rain and some thunder and lightning.

Warm temperatures that arrived ahead of the front are also long gone, WRAL meteorologist Elizabeth Gardner said.

"We've already had our high temperature for the day shortly after midnight, and with the wind and clearing we won't see much movement all day," she said.

Temperatures were near 50 degrees about 5:45 a.m. and will likely hover there much of the day as skies slowly clear from west to east across the state.

Windy conditions will gradually taper off through the late morning, but winds could still gust between 20 and 30 mph at times, keeping wind chills in the 30s. 

Wind damage was reported in spots across Wake County and in other parts of the viewing area from powerful gusts ahead of the system Wednesday evening, but none of the quick-moving storms produced isolated tornadoes or any serious injuries. 

"We actually got pretty lucky in terms of damage," Gardner said. "There are a couple of bands of showers moving through that are leftover from the system, but those will be out of here by the morning commute."

Overnight lows will return to normal Thursday night, dipping to below freezing ahead of a frigid Friday that could see highs only in the upper 30s. 

Skies will likely be partly to mostly cloudy for Groundhog Day festivities Saturday, and highs will top out in the mid-40s after starting in the low 20s. 

"It's up in the air right now whether groundhogs are going to be able to see their shadows," Gardner said. "We'll have to watch that forecast pretty closely."