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Record chill not out of question Friday, Saturday

The Charlotte area got a taste of autumn Wednesday, as afternoon temperatures held in the 70s and humidity fell to October-like levels.

But even cooler weather could be coming later in the week, and forecasters also are keeping a wary eye on conditions that could bring heavy rain to parts of the Southeast, possibly including the Carolinas.

A cold front pushed south of Charlotte during the day Wednesday, ending a streak of five days in which high temperatures had been near or above 90 degrees. Instead, afternoon readings in Charlotte were in the upper 70s. At Mount Mitchell, where the morning low was 49 degrees, afternoon readings were only in the middle 50s.

Dew point temperatures, a measure of humidity levels, fell into the upper 50s in Charlotte after being near the steamy 70-degree mark for several days.

Canadian high pressure responsible for the mid-August cool down is predicted to remain in control Thursday, holding daytime highs in the 70s across much of the Carolinas.

By later Thursday, low pressure is forecast to move along the stalled-out cold front to the south. That will bring an increased chance of showers to the Charlotte region, and rainfall probabilities are expected to increase Friday.

Bryan McAvoy, of the National Weather Service’s office in Greer, S.C., said it appears as if rainfall late Thursday and Friday will be “short of what would cause flooding.” But he said some computer models hint at heavier rainfall.

A bigger problem is possible Saturday and Sunday. A disturbance in the Caribbean Sea, which could become a named tropical storm within a few days, is forecast by most computers to move northward through the Gulf of Mexico and make landfall in the southern United States, spreading heavy rain – 3 to 6 inches, by some forecasts – into some parts of the Southeast.

Larry Gabric, head meteorologist at the Weather Service’s office in Greer, said it is unclear exactly where that heavy rain will fall. But he said computers seem to be pointing at the Piedmont.

The clouds and rain are forecast to drop temperatures even further, and computers hint that parts of North Carolina might not reach 70 degrees Friday and Saturday. The official forecast high for Charlotte is 76 degrees Friday and 74 Saturday, but those numbers might be quite optimistic if heavier rainfall develops.

The record Friday for lowest maximum temperature is 64 degrees, set in 1964. Saturday’s record is 71, established in 1992.

Gabric said temperatures will recover to more seasonal levels early next week, with daytime highs in the middle 80s.

Lyttle: 704-358-6107 Twitter: @slyttle
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