Weather

Jet stream behind surge of storms

Posted March 2, 2012 11:03 a.m. EST
Updated March 2, 2012 10:18 p.m. EST

— People in the Triangle and across the nation watched closely as deadly storms swept from the Gulf Coast to the Great Lakes for a second day in a row Friday. 

In Norman, Okla., forecasters at the Storm Prediction Center said they were bracing for what could be a potent tornado outbreak. "Maybe five times a year we issue what is kind of the highest risk level for us at the Storm Prediction Center," forecaster Corey Mead said. "This is one of those days."

Meteorologists at WRAL News and the National Weather Service in Raleigh agree that Spring 2012 could see more storms than the average. "Don't be surprised if there's a little bit more severe weather this spring than what we would have for a typical spring," said Nick Petro of the weather service.

Showers and chilly winds will dominate the weather pattern Friday evening in the Triangle, WRAL meteorologist Mike Maze said, but the Triangle will not see the kind of damage experienced to the west.

"It's just not going to happen," Maze said, referring to multiple reports of tornadoes in several states including Alabama, Indiana and Tennessee. Five people were killed by storms Friday in Indiana.

"The severe weather season really is determined by the position of the jet stream," Maze said. "It could go farther to the north and west. It could come down into North Carolina."

The rain that moved through the Tar Heel State Friday afternoon was the first in a series of weather changes on tap over the next 24 hours as two frontal systems pass by.

Tornado warnings hopscotched across the far western edge of North Carolina Friday afternoon. The National Weather Service said conditions are ripe for storms to form as the front moved over the Appalachian Mountains.

"This system is moving our way, but it weakens significantly by the time it makes its way here," Maze said.

By Friday night, rain chances will taper off as the warm front moves out ahead of a cold front that will pass through central North Carolina early Saturday.

"It will be quiet this evening, and the weather will get more active around daybreak," Maze said.

"Saturday morning may be bumpy," Maze said. "The greatest threat is for damaging wind gusts, but even that is a very low risk."

The chance for severe storms will pass by mid-morning, leaving rain and a growing chill Saturday afternoon, Maze said. High temperatures will top out in the mid-60s by early morning before falling once the front clears. 

Partly cloudy skies return to the forecast Sunday as temperatures return to the mid-50s. By Monday and Tuesday morning, low temperatures will be back in the upper 20s and low 30s.