The Charlotte region broke free of the rainy, chilly weather of recent days with a spectacular Sunday, but meteorologists say the nice conditions will be short-lived.
More rain is on the way, and there are indications that spring’s arrival might be postponed until the second half of March.
After two straight days of rain and high temperatures in the 40s, the thermometer climbed to 66 degrees Sunday at Charlotte-Douglas International Airport, which tied Feb. 5 for the warmest day of the month.
But another low pressure system is taking aim at the Carolinas, and forecasters say rain will return to the region by late Monday. The wet weather is expected to continue into Tuesday afternoon or evening, and then be replaced by very chilly weather to finish the week.
Forecasters say clouds will increase Monday, holding high temperatures into the low and mid 50s across the region. By late Monday evening, rain is predicted to overspread the area, and continue well into Tuesday. The low pressure system will help establish another cold air wedge over the Charlotte region -- a condition in which chilly, damp air locks in place across the Piedmont and foothills.
John Tomko, of the National Weather Service office in Greer, S.C., said temperatures will be cold enough late Monday night when the precipitation arrives for sleet and freezing rain to fall in areas above 3,500 feet. No significant accumulations are expected before the precipitation turns to rain, however.
Perhaps a bigger problem in the mountains will be winds. A high wind watch is in effect for Monday, with Tomko saying strong winds ahead of the low pressure system and an advancing cold front could be sustained at 35 to 40 mph, with gusts to 70 mph.
In the immediate Charlotte area, Tuesday is expected to be rainy and chilly, with temperatures not climbing out of the 40s.
Tomko says many areas could get up to an inch of rain from the system.
By later in the week, a deep low pressure system will become established over the northern Great Lakes, and there are signs that this will dominate weather in the eastern United States for the next 10 days, and possibly until the middle of March.
That means temperatures that are much below average for this time of year. Average highs in Charlotte in late February are in the upper 50s, but daytime highs next weekend might not get out of the 40s.