February 5: Showers Today, Strong Storms Thursday



The unusually warm weather will still be with us for a couple more days, but we’re getting into an increasingly wet pattern as well. Off-and-on showers will be possible at any point today, but it won’t be an all-day washout.

The HRRR model’s radar simulation from 9:00am today through 9:00am tomorrow shows the scattered pattern, with heavier and more-widespread rain moving in after midnight.

Temperatures will reach the upper 60s in the Triangle — a little warmer south, a little cooler north. Substantially cooler air will push into our northern counties this afternoon.

Temperatures tonight don’t drop much, despite the heavier rain intruding from the west.

Here’s the big question for tomorrow: how much of a break do we get between the early-morning rain, and stronger storms late in the day? The longer that break lasts, the more our temperatures warm up, leading to a greater severe weather threat. The North American Model’s simulation from 9:00am Thursday through 9:00am Friday shows a break of several hours, allowing strong storms to feed on the warmth in the late afternoon and evening…maybe even continuing well into the night.

For now, I’m leaving the Triangle’s high temperature forecast at 70°, which is borderline for a significant severe weather threat. Warmer temperatures south of the Triangle will be more-supportive of a higher risk, cooler temperatures to the north will limit the wind and tornado threats there.

The Storm Prediction Center’s outlook reflects that “could go either way” scenario. The SPC has included most of central North Carolina in a “Slight Risk” (level 2 of 5) of severe weather — the greatest threat will develop farther to our southwest, over South Carolina and Georgia.

Damaging winds will be the primary concern, but the level of wind energy in the atmosphere will also yield an isolated tornado threat as well.

Flash flooding will be an increasing concern as more rain falls on already-saturated ground, especially Thursday evening and overnight. The Weather Prediction Center’s rainfall estimate continues to show the potential for 3″+ totals, especially along and west of I-85.

That’s enough for the WPC to highlight a “Moderate Risk” (level 3 of 4) of flash flooding in those locations on its Excessive Rainfall Outlook, with a “Slight Risk (level 2 of 4) for most of the rest of central North Carolina.

The rain will move out Friday morning, and we’ll see some sunshine by Friday afternoon. Cooler temperatures will move in after the rain, with high temperatures staying in the 50s over the weekend. The daylight hours of Saturday and Sunday look dry, but one more chance of showers will scoot through quickly Saturday night.

Another prolonged stretch of warm-but-wet weather arrives Tuesday and stick around through the rest of next week. It’s too soon to be overly confident in those day-by-day rain chances, but the whole pattern looks generally unsettled.


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