23 NC counties are under alert, including Johnston, Moore, Chatham, Sampson, and Lee counties. Details
Published: 2014-01-02 05:38:00
Updated: 2014-01-02 13:05:17
Posted January 2, 2014 5:38 a.m. EST
Updated January 2, 2014 1:05 p.m. EST
Raleigh, N.C. — Brutally cold air is headed to central North Carolina on the final day of the work week, with temperatures nearly 20 degrees below normal for early January, according to WRAL meteorologist Elizabeth Gardner said.
Before the arctic air arrives, however, the Triangle will have to deal with wet conditions across much of the area Thursday afternoon.
"Rain has been to Raleigh's south and east for much of the first half of the day, but it will be moving north and west in the afternoon hours," Gardner said.
Rain chances will increase to 70 percent in the Triangle by 2 p.m. and up to nearly 100 percent by 6 p.m. Temperatures were in the mid-40s at lunchtime and will likely top out around 50 degrees.
"Our evening commute is going to be pretty messy," Gardner said. "Keep an eye on that throughout the afternoon as you prepare to head home."
The mountains of North Carolina could see several inches of snow during the afternoon and evening hours Thursday.
The rain will move out of the Triangle by 4 a.m. Friday and will be replaced with sunny skies and below-freezing temperatures. Raleigh will dip 19 degrees in six hours – from 41 degrees at 1 a.m. Friday to 22 degrees by 7 a.m.
"This is cold air, my friends," WRAL Chief Meteorologist Greg Fishel said. "You tack a 15 mph wind onto that, and it feels like it’s around 10 (degrees) when you head out Friday morning ... There’s no return on the investment here. We’re not getting any snow. This is terrible."
Highs Saturday and Sunday will climb into the low 40s to near 50 degrees, but another cold shot of arctic air will arrive in the Triangle next Tuesday.
"(It) has the potential to be even colder than this one," Fishel said. "We could have an entire day in the 20s despite sun."