Friday, January 3, 2014

Cold snap could rival January 2003

You'd have to go back to January 2003 to find temperatures as cold as what is forecast for a few days next week in the Carolinas.

There's the typical range among the computer models of exactly how cold it will get, but it appears likely now that Charlotte could drop below freezing sometime Monday evening and not climb above 32 degrees again until Wednesday afternoon.

In some places northwest of Charlotte, like Hickory, Lenoir and Morganton, it could be Thursday before readings climb above freezing.

Below-zero readings are likely in the mountains, and parts of the foothills could be close to zero, if the cold wave verifies.

I checked National Weather Service records in Charlotte, and I only found one day in the last five years when it didn't reach 32 degrees. That was last Jan. 25, when we had a high of 27 degrees and a low of 21, with a trace of snow.

The real comparison with what is expected next week is 10 years ago this month.

In January 2003, Charlotte set two daily records for low temperatures, with readings of 10 degrees on the 18th and 9 degrees on the 23rd. There were actually two waves of cold (somewhat like what could happen this year). The first outbreak was Jan. 17-19, with the coldest day being Jan. 18 (high of 33, low of 10).

The second outbreak was Jan. 23-25, with highs and lows of 38 and 9 on Jan. 23 and 33 and 8 on Jan. 24.

Interestingly, the average temperature that month was 4.4 degrees below average, which is nowhere near being among the 10 coldest Januarys. The average in January 2010 was several degrees colder, but it was spread out across the month.

The computer models seem to agree that next week's cold will be short-lived -- basically, a blast that lasts about 48 to 72 hours before milder conditions return later in the week. In fact, the long-range forecast for the Panthers' home playoff game a week from Sunday is for highs in the low 50s.


Bruce said...

The January 2003 temps you refer to were actually 11 years ago this month!

Anonymous said...