Spring creeps into last days of winter

Posted March 17, 2011 12:54 p.m. EDT
Updated March 17, 2011 1:47 p.m. EDT

— Residents of North Carolina can look forward to a bout of springlike weather in the last few days of winter.

"We do have some beautiful weather on tap," WRAL meteorologist Elizabeth Gardner said Thursday. "Amazingly for this time of year, we have highs in the 80s for four of the next seven days."

Thursday will see a high in the low 70s, and temperatures will warm up more dramatically for the weekend. The mercury will shoot above 80 degrees both Friday and Saturday.

Those unseasonably high temperatures are being driven by a high pressure system that's acting unusually, Gardner said. Normally, a high pressure system draws colder winds from the north.

"Instead, this one is bringing westerly, southwesterly winds, so our temperatures start to warm up immediately," Gardner explained.

A more typical northerly wind flow will set in Sunday, dropping the day's high to the mid 60s. Sunday is the official end of winter.

The winds will quickly reverse again, and temperatures will zip back up to around 80 degrees next Tuesday and Wednesday.

North Carolina has seen a pattern of warmer than normal temperatures lately, Gardner said, but beyond a week, it's hard to predict with any certainty how long that trend might continue.

Normal highs for this time of year run in the low 60s, so it wouldn't be unexpected to have a few days with temperatures in the 50s over the next few weeks, she said.