Season's first arctic cold arrives in Charlotte area

jdepriest@charlotteobserver.comNovember 12, 2013 

UPDATE: Temperatures are dropping tonight and a light rain is falling. Snow flurries have been reported around the Charlotte region, with the temperature dipping to 37 degrees at 6:50 p.m. The low in Charlotte tonight is expected to reach 27 degrees.

The National Weather Service is predicting a mixture of wintry precipitation, tapering off around 8 p.m. But high winds will continue overnight, 20 to 25 mph from the north. Temperatures will fall to about 35 degrees tonight and possibly into the mid 20s overnight. Snowfall will be less than half an inch.

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Wind, rain and a few snowflakes were expected to usher in the coldest weather snap so far this fall.

The National Weather Service forecast a low of 25 degrees on Wednesday morning and a predicted high of only 46 in the Charlotte area.

“It’s definitely going to feel like winter,” said Larry Gabric, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service’s Greenville-Spartanburg office. “The temperature will be 15 degrees below normal.”

In the Charlotte area, Tuesday started dry and a little breezy. The day’s high temperature reached 56 degrees.

But a cold front barreling toward the Queen City was predicted to change things rapidly.

Gabric said temperatures would drop into the 30s Tuesday evening.

“There will be a few snowflakes from Charlotte north along the I-77 corridor,” he said on Tuesday. “But we’re not expecting anything to stick.”

Gradual overnight clearing would give way to a sunny but chilly and breezy Wednesday, he said.

The early taste of winter won’t last long.

Gabric said near-normal temperatures on Thursday and Friday will climb into the mid-50s.

By Saturday, temperatures should be back to normal, he said.

On Tuesday morning, before the cold front arrived, people in uptown Charlotte wore everything from heavy coats to short-sleeve shirts.

Milwaukee native Dawn Fisher dreaded the return of an Arctic chill.

“I don’t like cold weather,” said Fisher, 44, a human resource consultant with Wells Fargo. “That’s one reason I live down here.”

In 2004, the year she came to Charlotte, 3 or 4 inches of snow fell, and “the city shut down,” she said. “What cracks me up is everybody rushing off to Harris Teeter, cleaning off the shelves. People down here overreact to cold weather. It’s a little strange.”

The impending cold front didn’t bother Fisher. At 2 p.m. Tuesday, she’d be off to Bangkok on vacation.

“Hopefully, I can get out of here before it hits,” she said.

Joe Antonio, 40, walked across South Tryon Street carrying a cup of coffee and a muffin, feeling comfortable in a dress shirt with no coat.

A New Yorker who has lived in Charlotte for six years, he’s used to cold weather.

“I refuse to wear long pants until December,” Antonio said.

But if the temperature plunged as predicted Tuesday night, “I might actually put on long pants or a pull-over sweatshirt,” he said.

In Gaston County, Carol Reinhardt, who grew up in Denver, wasn’t looking forward to the return of bitterly cold weather.

“It won’t be Colorado-mountain cold, but it’ll be cold enough for me,” said Reinhardt, program coordinator at Gaston County Public Library. “I’m prepared for it, but I don’t like it. I’m so glad I have a nice warm house – and a nice warm dog.”

DePriest: 704-868-7745

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