HUNTINGTON — Looking out the window, Saturday appeared to be another gloomy winter day in Huntington, but taking one step outside into the late spring-like heat proved otherwise.
The record-setting warm day gave hundreds of area residents a rare chance to hit the parks and walking trails without worrying about bringing a jacket.
However, while the parks were full, Simone Lewis, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Charleston, was watching a severe line of showers, which hit Huntington at about 3:30 p.m. Saturday, ending a day of outdoor play for the area.
Before the rain cooled the area off, a nearly 60-year-old temperature record was smashed Saturday. The previous Jan. 11 record of 66 degrees, which had been set in 1963, went away as Saturday’s highs reached 76 by the afternoon. The temperature was about a 50-degree temperature swing from Thursday morning, which reached lows in the 20s.
Friday’s high of 68 degrees in Huntington tied the same temperature reached in 2018. At a high of 71 degrees last year, Charleston set a record Jan. 11, but broke the record again Saturday with a high in the mid-70s.
Lewis said the warm weather was uncommon.
“It’s pretty rare. We have a really strong southern flow that has taken over,” she said. “That’s what’s doing it.”
The unique weather pattern was caused due to a strong low pressure system that moved into the area over the weekend. With the warm air, however, the system brought winds that topped the mid-30 mph mark by Saturday afternoon and were expected to reach the mid-40 mph mark by Saturday night. The system also brought scattered showers, which affected the area Friday and Saturday nights.
While rain stayed away in the morning, wind gusts did not waver and averaged about 35 to 40 mph throughout the morning and afternoon before rising as the showers came.
“If you’re outdoors (Saturday), you do need to be aware that wind gusts could get pretty high,” Lewis said. “That could bring down trees or something similar to that.”
While the showers were expected to bring wind gusts of about 50 mph with them, Lewis said the storms were not as severe as those hitting the south.
Across the South and Midwest, at least 11 people were reported to have died as severe weather swept through the region, bringing high winds and rain with it. Flooding caused roadways to be shut down and high winds moved mobile homes from their foundations, The Associated Press reported.
The warm weather in the Tri-State is expected to last into the new week before tapering off with a high in the low 40s on Thursday.