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Rain, then more rain in area's forecast for Christmas

By Steve Lyttle
slyttle@charlotteobserver.com

Rain will be the weather theme for Christmas this year across the Charlotte region, as two low pressure systems bring plenty of precipitation to the area.

The rain already proved to be a problem Christmas Eve morning, with authorities reporting some flooding in the Statesville-Hickory corridor.

The first low pressure system is moving eastward Monday, and it will produce several hours of light to moderate rain. National Weather Service meteorologists say between a quarter-inch and half-inch of rain is expected during the day. But some locations are getting more.

As of late Monday morning, automated gauges showed three-quarters of an inch had fallen at the Hickory Regional Airport, and seven-tenths of an inch was reported in northern Iredell County. Amounts of a half-inch were widespread across the mountains and foothills.

The rain was enough to cause some flooding. The N.C. Department of Transportation reported flooding on westbound I-40 near mile marker 151 about 9:30 a.m. The road has remained open, but travel is slow in the area.

Clouds will keep it cool Monday, with highs only reaching the upper 40s.

Temperatures are above freezing in the mountains, so today’s rain is not expected to bring any wintry precipitation to the Carolinas.

A break in the precipitation is forecast for Christmas morning, but forecasters say the area will remain under thick clouds, and morning fog is also possible. Temperatures will moderate, however, with highs predicted to reach the upper 50s.

During Christmas Day, a front will be stationary across South Carolina. By late afternoon or evening, a strong low pressure system will be pushing eastward across the Ohio Valley, and meteorologists expect the storm system to begin dragging the front in South Carolina northward. By late evening, Charlotte will be on the warm and unstable side of the front.

Rain is predicted to overspread the region Christmas evening and overnight, and meteorologists say between 1 and 1 1/2 inches of precipitation could fall before it ends Wednesday evening. The rain is good news for the region, which remains locked in drought conditions.

Two other threats will accompany Wednesday’s system -- severe weather and strong winds.

Forecasters say the severe thunderstorms and possible tornadoes are more likely in the Deep South, but they say if enough instability develops Wednesday afternoon, a line of severe storms could form on a cold front moving eastward across the Carolinas.

Then, once the cold front and low pressure system have moved east of the area, gusty winds are expected. Forecasters say it could be quite windy Wednesday night and early Thursday.

Colder air will arrive later in the week, with daytime highs in the 40s and morning lows in the 20s.

Read more here: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2012/12/24/3745400/rain-then-more-rain-for-christmas.html#storylink=cpy

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