Record low possible before coldest parade in decades

Posted November 21, 2008 4:07 p.m. EST
Updated November 21, 2008 11:29 p.m. EST

— Temperatures could reach a record low Friday night in the hours leading up to what is expected to be the coldest Raleigh Christmas Parade in nearly 30 years, WRAL Meteorologist Mike Maze said.

Overnight lows were expected to be in the low 20s. The record for Raleigh is 23 degrees.

Saturday morning will start out in the low 20s, rising to around 30 degrees by the 9:30 a.m. start of the Christmas parade. Wind chills are expected to be in the low 20s early Saturday.

“We will have a noticeable breeze which could make it feel colder than it actually is,” WRAL Chief Meteorologist Greg Fishel said.

By Saturday afternoon conditions are expected to be similar to Friday at the same time, but with less wind.

On Friday, temperatures barely warmed up into the low 40s, and strong winds gusted to 25 mph.

The wind was expected to drop humidity levels rapidly – which could fuel wildfires. The National Weather Service advised residents in central North Carolina to avoid burning leaves.

Some "big, fat, fluffy” snowflakes fell early Friday.

Send and view pictures of the snow.

The arrival of a cold front and an upper-level disturbance at the same time made the snow early Friday.

"We've got the colder air coming in as the precipitation comes in. ... It's just working out perfectly this morning," WRAL Meteorologist Elizabeth Gardner said.

The heaviest snow in central portions of the state fell north and west of a line from Henderson to Durham to Asheboro. Around Winston-Salem, along Interstate 40, about half-an-inch fell.

"Other places in our viewing area got just a trace, and it melted very quickly," Gardner said.

In the mountains, police responded to dozens of wrecks during the surprise snowfall.

A truck jackknifed, and rescue crews took the driver to a hospital. Police said the truck spilled some diesel fuel, but not enough to be considered dangerous.

A stretch of Interstate 40 near the Buncombe-Haywood county line was closed and traffic detoured while crews spread salt on the roadway.

Schools in Buncombe and other mountain counties closed for the day. Students in Guilford and Forsyth counties got a two-hour delay.