Warm weather to remain in forecast for several days

Posted March 13, 2012 8:16 a.m. EDT
Updated March 14, 2012 5:29 a.m. EDT

— A high pressure system and warm air streaming up from the south will send temperatures across much of central North Carolina soaring into the 80s Wednesday, WRAL meteorologist Elizabeth Gardner said. 

The unseasonably warm temperatures won't be leaving right away, either, as temperatures should stay in the upper-70s and low-80s for much of the next week. 

"You've probably gotten used to this because of our warm winter," Gardner said. "But spring is coming in the next few days and it's going to stick with us. You'll be able to pull out T-shirts and shorts for much of the next week." 

It's a similar story nationally, as high temperatures broke records in several spots across the country Tuesday. National forecasters are predicting temperatures will likely remain unusually high through March.

A jet stream moving north to south on the West Coast is pushing an opposite, seesaw effect in the rest of the nation. Atmospheric patterns, including the Pacific phenomenon known as La Nina, have kept cold air bottled up over Canada and contributed to the warmer winter.

"It's been a nice trend," Gardner said. "Our normal high temperatures this time of year are in the 60s. We started out in the upper 50s and low 60s Wednesday morning."

By Wednesday afternoon, some spots in the area could come close to record temperatures. The record high for March 14 was recorded in 1973, when the temperature at Raleigh-Durham International Airport topped out at 86. 

Sunny skies remain in the forecast for Thursday, as highs should once again climb into the mid-80s, Gardner said. Scattered showers and isolated thunderstorms could make their way to the area Friday afternoon and Saturday. 

"The best chance we have for rain will come Friday afternoon," Gardner said. "It's a similar story on Saturday, but neither day is going to be rainy all day. These showers will be scattered."

Temperatures will cool back into the mid-to-upper 70s by early next week, but overnight lows will remain well above average, with most areas seeing temperatures stay in the upper 50s.