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COLD FRONT MAY BRING HEAT RELIEF CHANCE OF RAIN GOOD NEWS IN DRY-AS-DUST GREENSBORO

COLD FRONT MAY BRING HEAT RELIEF CHANCE OF RAIN GOOD NEWS IN DRY-AS-DUST GREENSBORO

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Triad residents may find themselves moving from the sauna bath to the shower today.

A cold front moving through this afternoon will bring somewhat lower temperatures and a chance of showers and thunderstorms.That should be a welcome change from Friday's sweltering high of 97 - 1 degree shy of the record set in 1954. Asheville had a record high of 91.

The only places that probably wouldn't welcome rain would be college towns, where football teams will be in action.

``I can't guarantee that every spot will get rain,' said Larry Lee, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service office at Raleigh-Durham International Airport. ``But there will be showers and thunderstorms, becoming more numerous during the weekend.'

``This is the best chance we've had in a while,' said Johnnie Smith, official in charge of the weather service's office at Piedmont Triad International Airport west of Greensboro.

Temperatures trailing the cold front are only slightly lower than the sizzling readings that have baked North Carolina the past several days. But the front will increase the cloud cover and drop temperatures further, Lee said.

``We'll probably have variably cloudy conditions during the weekend,' he said.

Any rain will be welcome in Greensboro, which is among the driest areas of the state this summer. Only 3.51 inches of rain has fallen at the airport since late May. More than 4 inches normally falls there during July as well as August - the wettest months of the year.

``Maybe we'll luck out,' Smith said.

As is often the case with summertime showers, though, some areas near Greensboro have gotten good rains this year. In Brown Summit, for example, more than 8 inches of rain fell during August.

Ed Brotak, an atmospheric scientist at the University of North Carolina at Asheville, said he sees signs that the weather pattern that has brought extremely hot temperatures may be about to change.

There is an atmospheric imbalance that must be corrected between the below-normal temperatures in parts of Alaska and Canada and the well-above-normal temperatures across the Plain states and the Southeast, he said.

``It's going to have to change at some point,' he said. ``The question is when.'

When the change comes, temperatures across the Southeast will be much cooler, he said.

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