Published: 2019-12-25 10:55:00
Updated: 2019-12-25 21:01:16
By Kasey Cunningham, WRAL reporter
The weather was a welcoming 45 degrees under bright, sunny skies by the time hikers began to gather at Mission Valley Shopping Center. They planned to enjoy the scenery and the company for about two hours.
Christmas marked the first of a series of warmer-than-normal days forecast for central North Carolina. High temperatures reached 58 in the Triangle and 62 in Fayetteville on Wednesday, 7 and 9 degrees above normal, respectively.
The record for Christmas Day in Raleigh is 75 degrees, set in 1955, and it has been as cold as 4 degrees (1983). The last time the Triangle saw a white Christmas was 2010, when just a little less than a half-inch of snow fell.
Temperatures will be in the low 60s Thursday and Friday and the upper 60s over the weekend before a cold front brings clouds and a 40 to 50 percent chance of rain on Sunday. WRAL meteorologist Mike Maze said the region could see from a half-inch to an inch of rain.
Colder air returns in time for New Year's Eve, with highs in the low 50s both Tuesday and to ring in 2020 on Wednesday. Temperatures at First Night Raleigh will be "hovering around 40 degrees, which is not bad for New Year's Eve being outside," Maze said.
The tradition of a holiday hike returns next week, on New Year's Day, when parks across the state celebrate with First Day Hikes. The state encourages outdoor activity to get 2020 started on a healthful note. Hikes begin as early as 8 a.m., depending on the park, and cover a range of difficulties and distances.