(NCNN WeatherCenter) — Eastern North Carolina is preparing for the possibility of severe storms, gusty winds and even a tornado threat for Christmas Eve.
“Damaging wind gusts and tornadoes will be possible from 2 to 11 p.m. on Christmas Eve,” said NCNN meteorologist Peta Sheerwood.
On Thursday, the Triangle is under a Level 2 risk for severe weather, and counties east of Raleigh, including Wayne County, are under a Level 3 risk.
We haven’t seen a Level 3 risk since the springtime, according to NCNN meteorologist Mike Maze.
Multiple counties, including Johnston, Cumberland, Wayne, Wilson and Nash, are now under a Wind Advisory until 1 a.m. on Friday. Winds of 15 to 20 mph, with gusts up to 45 mph are expected.
Maze says the greatest threat in the Triangle will be damaging wind gusts greater than 60 mph during the storms and “supercells,” or rotating thunderstorms, while eastern counties and the coast have a greater potential for tornadoes.
Some models show wind gusts as strong as 90 mph on Christmas Eve, Maze said.
Rain chances increase to 50% by noon on Thursday, and by the evening there’s a 90% chance for rain and storms.
Localized flooding is also possible as heavy rain will hit us throughout the afternoon and into the evening.
“Things are really going to ramp up for us as we head into the afternoon,” said Sheerwood.
Before storms arrive, Christmas Eve will also be warm, with temperatures nearing the 60s. As the storms moves in, temperatures will drop.
Cold air rushes in for Christmas Day, and parts of the North Carolina mountains could wake to a white Christmas.
Overnight Christmas Eve, temperatures will drop across the area, with locals waking up to frigid temps in the 20s on Christmas morning.
Rain is likely Christmas morning, but should taper off well before lunchtime.
In central North Carolina, the high on Christmas Day will reach only about 40 degrees, with wind chills that make it feel like the 20s, Campbell said.
Christmas night will be the coldest so far this season with lows potentially dipping into the teens in some spots.
Like Christmas, the weekend will be very cold, with highs in the mid 40s. Chances are very slim for snow, even with the cold weather temperatures.