New year blows in 'unrealistic cold'

Posted January 1, 2010 11:45 a.m. EST
Updated January 2, 2010 6:41 a.m. EST

— North Carolinians got a mild start to the new year, but cold air and even chillier winds blew in overnight Friday.

"As we start 2010, it's very cold," WRAL meteorologist Kim Deaner said. "That's the only way I can describe this seven-day forecast."

Sunset at New Year's Day saw temperatures close to normal, reaching from the mid 40s to 50 degrees around the region.

But "we do have some cold weather, unrealistically cold, well below average, maybe breaking some records over the next couple days," Deaner said.

Cloudy skies will clear overnight, opening the way for a cold front to start making its impact. "Those clearing skies are going to allow temperatures to drop like a rock" into the mid to low 20s, Deaner said.

"It's the wind that's really going to make it into that bone-chilling cold as we head into those overnight hours," she said.

That starts what the National Weather Service says could be the longest cold stretch in a generation.

Saturday will see a high around 35 degrees and overnight low in the upper teens. Strong, northwesterly winds will be steady and could gust up to 35 mph.

"When you factor in the fact that winds are going to be gusting up to 35 mph tomorrow, the wind chill will be in the upper teens and lower 20s during the day," Deaner said.

Sunday will be sunny, and the winds will slow down, but the cold won't retreat. Again, the high will be around 35 degrees, and the overnight low in the mid to upper teens.

A weather pattern with highs in the 30s and lows in the teens could last up to two weeks, according to the weather service. Such a cold snap hasn't been seen in North Carolina since January 1977.