High winds blow into Triangle

Posted December 19, 2012 11:32 p.m. EST
Updated December 20, 2012 10:38 p.m. EST

— A massive storm system plowing through the nation's midsection brought showers and powerful wind gusts to central North Carolina Thursday night, WRAL Chief Meteorologist Greg Fishel said.

"Our weather is really a tale of two parts," Fishel said.

Thursday evening saw rainfall across the viewing area, as well as damaging wind gusts up to 33 mph in Raleigh and 37 mph in Fayetteville. But the chance for severe weather such as that seen to the west was only slight.

"Winds tomorrow could gust even higher than this," said WRAL meteorologist Mike Maze. "Futurecast is showing the rain shifting to the east, by midnight it should be along the I-95 corridor. Well after midnight, we'll see clearing take place and by daybreak, we're looking at some cooler weather."

The temperature forecast for Friday is for highs in the 40s, but the winds will make it feel even more bitter.

The National Weather Service issued a high wind warning for most of the Triangle through Friday evening.

Strong wind contributed to tens of thousands of power outages in Arkansas, Iowa and Nebraska. Utilities reported more than 33,000 customers without power in the Des Moines area, more than 36,000 outages in eastern Nebraska and more than 41,000 without power in Arkansas, where thunderstorms took out lines. Smaller outages were reported in Alabama, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois and Louisiana. 

Chicago commuters began Thursday with heavy fog and cold, driving rain, and forecasters said snow would hit the Midwestern metropolis by mid-afternoon. Officials at O'Hare International Airport reported some flight delays and more than 90 cancellations. United Airlines said it would waive change fees for travelers who have to change their plans for travel through O'Hare because of the storm.

American Airlines reported 120 cancellations in Dallas because of thunderstorms there. There also were delays, most involving smaller regional planes that have more flight restrictions, spokeswoman Andrea Huguely said.

No snow in sight

Those in the Triangle with dreams of a white Christmas will be disappointed, Fishel said. The holiday forecast calls for overcast skies and a mild day, with temperatures in the 50s. There is no snow in the forecast for Raleigh for as far as the forecast models can see.