Triangle sizzles under excessive heat

Posted July 26, 2012 6:24 a.m. EDT
Updated July 26, 2012 3:54 p.m. EDT

— Triple-digit heat returned to central and eastern North Carolina Thursday when the heat index reached 111 degrees outside WRAL's Raleigh studios.

The combination of 97-degree temperatures and 51 percent humidity made it feel more than 10 degrees warmer. At Raleigh-Durham International Airport, the temperature was 97 degrees at 4 p.m. and the heat index was 109.

The National Weather Service issued heat advisories for all of eastern North Carolina from 11 a.m. until 7 p.m., as heat indices could stay above 105 degrees for more than two hours during the early afternoon hours.

"Stay inside if you can, and take it easy if you must be outdoors this afternoon," said WRAL meteorologist Elizabeth Gardner.

So far this year, there have been eight days where the high temperature has reached or exceeded the 100-degree mark.

With highs forecast to reach 100 degrees Thursday and Friday, the Triangle will inch closer to the all-time mark for 100-degree days in a summer. In 1999, the area saw 12 days over 100 degrees.

"I wouldn't be surprised if we tie the daily record this afternoon," Gardner said. "If temperatures stay above 90 through the middle of next week, which it looks like they will, we'll also set a record for the number of 90-degree days in the month of July."

Isolated afternoon thunderstorms aren't out of the question Thursday, but there won't be any widespread showers to help cool things off.

After another scorcher on Friday, temperatures will slowly dip back into the 90s over the weekend and into the early part of next week, Gardner said.

"A cold front will drop down from the Great Lakes early next week and cool us off," she said. "It will also bring back those afternoon showers and thunderstorms."