Mercury climbs toward record high Wednesday

Posted May 2, 2012 6:41 a.m. EDT
Updated May 2, 2012 11:22 p.m. EDT

— Southerly winds, high humidity and partly cloudy conditions helped the Triangle's early-May heat wave gain momentum Wednesday, with the mercury topping out in the low 90s.

The record high for May 2 was set in 2010, when the temperature at Raleigh-Durham International Airport topped out at 92 degrees. Wednesday's high stopped just short of that record with a high of 91, said WRAL Chief Meteorologist Greg Fishel. 

Areas in and around the Triangle experienced about a five-degree difference in high temperatures, Fishel said. Wake Forest and areas north of Durham, for example, topped out in the high 80s.

The above-normal temperatures felt even hotter due to a high level of water vapor in the air, Fishel said. Dew points usually reach into the 70s by July, but Wednesday's dew point was already at 67 in Raleigh, which is unusual for early spring. 

"For the early part of May, this is a mighty muggy air mass," said Fishel.

The above-average temperatures and muggy conditions could fuel some isolated evening showers and thunderstorms in the northern portion of the state, but the weather will be fair across the majority of the viewing area. 

An organized storm system over Alabama is expected to head north and turn eastward over the next few days, bringing a chance for showers and thunderstorms Friday.

High temperatures will stay in the 90s Thursday, Friday and Saturday before a gradual cooldown starts on Sunday. Temperatures will return to the upper 70s and low 80s by early next week. 

Though a temperature spike in May isn't unusual for North Carolina, a Raleigh pool company said it's getting flooded with calls about a month earlier than normal.

Tara Onthank, whose family owns Rising Sun Pools, said if business continues to pour in, the company could see a 25-percent increase in sales this year.

"I don't remember anything like this," she said. "We got such an influx of people starting really in the middle of March."

At Quality Air Conditioning in Raleigh, Terrance Clarke said he could use a spring rush.

"This has been my worst winter ever," he said, referring to mild winter temperatures that left little need for heating service.

But the earlier people turn on their air conditioners, the better for Clarke.

"Today was promising," he said. "This summer is going to be a scorcher."