Published: 2008-01-07 13:44:00
Updated: 2008-01-07 17:29:19
Posted January 7, 2008 1:44 p.m. EST
Updated January 7, 2008 5:29 p.m. EST
Raleigh, N.C. — The Triangle basked in spring-like temperatures Monday that fell just short of a record.
Normal temperatures for the region in early January top out around 50 degrees, but Monday's high reached 72 degrees, WRAL Chief Meteorologist Greg Fishel said. The record high for Jan. 7 is 74 degrees.
The region will approach record territory again Tuesday, Fishel said, with highs forecasted in the upper 60s. The record for Jan. 8 is 72 degrees, and temperatures could go that high if cloud cover is less than expected, he said.
Highs in the low 70s usually appear in mid- to late April across central North Carolina, WRAL meteorologist Elizabeth Gardner said.
"This does happen from time to time. A lot depends on which way the wind is blowing," Gardner said.
A high-pressure system off the East Coast pumped warm southwesterly air across the Southeast and Ohio River valley, and unusually warm temperatures stretched as far north as the Great Lakes. Chicago recorded a high of 64 degrees Monday, while Buffalo, N.Y., hit a high of 60 degrees, Fishel said.
Three tornadoes were reported in Illinois and Missouri.
The warm weather in the Triangle was in stark contrast to the below-normal temperatures the area experienced less than a week ago. Monday's high of 72 was 55 degrees warmed than the low of 17 recorded Friday morning, Fishel said.
The high temperatures didn't help the ongoing drought across North Carolina, he said. The warm air dries out moisture in the soil, which then raises the air temperature even more, he said.
Since Jan. 1, 2007, the region's rainfall is 8.1 inches below normal.
A cold front was expected to move across North Carolina late Tuesday and Wednesday morning, bringing clouds and spotty showers, especially near the Virginia border, Gardner said. Highs should remain in the 60s.
A second front that moves through on Thursday should bring colder, northeast winds and another chance for spotty showers, she said.