After a lot of "below-normal" temperatures for much of the past two months, we finally topped our normal high temperatures this past weekend with a high of 59 on Saturday (versus a normal of 55) and 65 on Sunday (versus the normal of 56). Thanks to light winds, dry air and clear skies at night, both days featured a large swing from cold morning lows to mild afternoon highs. We covered a span of 36 degrees Saturday and then 40 degrees Sunday. The attached map shows yesterday's highs across the state, ranging from 64 at Rocky Mount to 67 at Fayetteville in our part of the state, with mid 50s to around 60 in the mountains and some cooler temperatures (influenced by water that remains in the 40s) along the Outer Banks and northern coast, where it only managed to reach 52 at Cape Hatteras.
While the afternoon temperatures this weekend were not even close to records, since we've been into the 70s in the past on February 20th and 21st, they were a nice respite in a relative sense, given how frequently temperatures have run on the short side of normal this winter. Once we're done with February (and therefore with the three month period that counts as "winter" in most climate records) we'll take a look at what our overall temperature trends were for the period and how it ranks historically.
For now, one indicator of a lot of cold weather has been the streaks of days with high temperatures below normal. While wintertime here often features temperatures that swing up and down quite a lot, with an occasional streak of several days one side or the other of normal, this year we've seen streaks of below normal highs lasting 1) seven straight days from 16-22 Dec 09, 2) 17 days in a row from 28 Dec 09 - 13 Jan 10, and then 16 consecutive days from 04-19 Feb 10. While that is pretty notable, it does fall far short of a couple of previous records of that sort. In 1969, the high at RDU was below normal 32 days in a row from 13 Feb - 16 Mar, and in 1960, we had 37 straight days, from 19 Feb - 26 Mar!
It looks as if we'll stick with upper 50s and low 60s in many spots today and tomorrow, but we'll have to bundle up for another shot of cold for the second half of the week...
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