Warm air moves in Wednesday; 70s on the horizon

Posted January 9, 2013 8:51 a.m. EST
Updated January 9, 2013 12:46 p.m. EST

— The steady climb toward 70-degree weather begins in earnest Wednesday as warm air begins pushing its way into central and eastern North Carolina from the Gulf of Mexico, WRAL meteorologist Elizabeth Gardner said. 

Seventies won't arrive until Saturday and Sunday, but temperatures climbed into the mid-60s at lunchtime Wednesday, 10 to 15 degrees above normal for January. 

"No frost on the windows this morning. That is one feature of this warm-up, we will see some warmer overnight temperatures to go along with our warm daytime highs," Gardner said.

Sunshine will mix with clouds during the day, and by Thursday much of the area will see widespread and dense cloud cover. 

"The clouds will keep us cooler Thursday and Friday, and we could see some sprinkles late in the day Friday as a warm front moves up from the south and west," Gardner said. 

The warm air will arrive quickly behind the front, as overnight lows Friday will linger in the mid-50s. 

Partly cloudy skies will return Saturday as highs climb to near 70 degrees. On Sunday, some areas could see record highs as afternoon temperatures climb into the mid-70s.

"It's going to feel almost hot for January," Gardner said. 

The record at Raleigh-Durham International Airport on Jan. 12 was set in 2005, when the high reached 74 degrees. 

January 2005 was a record-setting month for warm temperatures, as the mercury topped 70 degrees 10 times. Since 2002, there have only been 25 days in January where the temperatures have climbed into the 70s at RDU. The last of those came in 2008. 

Temperatures will begin to fall slowly early next week, dipping back into the 60s by Tuesday.