Whipping winds, chilly temps end 2008

Temperatures dropped to just before freezing late Wednesday, but winds subsided.

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Whipping winds, chilly temps end 2008
RALEIGH, N.C. — Strong winds and cold temperatures will close out 2008.

The National Weather Service issued wind advisories, warnings and watches across the state on Wednesday. Motorists driving vans, campers, trailers and other tall vehicles were advised to be extra cautious.

"We can file this one in the 'this doesn't happen every day' category," WRAL Meteorologist Nate Johnson wrote in his blog.

A strong cold front moved across the state Wednesday morning and was followed by very strong high pressure.

Highs reached the mid-50s in the Triangle around midday and then began plummeting in the late afternoon. By evening, the temperatures had dropped to the upper-30s.

Around 11 p.m. temperatures dropped to just below freezing and the winds died down,  WRAL Chief Meteorologist Greg Fishel said.

Wind gusts of 39 mph were recorded at Raleigh-Durham International Airport.

At Grandfather Mountain, officials recorded a wind gust at 104 mph early Wednesday. Three-second gusts from 80 -100 mph were experienced all day, officials said.

2009 forecast

The first day of 2009 will be sunny and cold with much less wind. Highs will reach the lower 40s. Thursday night will be fair followed by increasing cloudiness. Lows will dip into the upper 20s and rise a bit toward morning.

Friday will be mostly cloudy with some patchy light rain. Saturday will be sunny with near normal temperatures. Sunday will be mostly cloudy and a bit milder.

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