CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The Carolina Panthers will wrap up the preseason Friday against the Detroit Lions and the weather's going to be a lot different this time around.
Less than a year after the Lions played the coldest game in Panthers team history, they'll now be playing in one of the hottest with a forecast high temperature of 96 degrees Friday. If you remember (and how could you forget?) the Lions played at Bank of America Stadium on Christmas Eve last year when record cold froze the Carolinas.
Friday night will be the exact opposite of that. The forecast high is 96 degrees and the heat index will make it feel like 101 or 102 degrees leading up to kickoff. The dangerously hot weather is why chief meteorologist Brad Panovich says everyone should be Weather Aware this weekend.
PANTHERS WEATHER: Why your seat location matters on a hot day
Because we only measure the actual temperature and not the heat index, it probably won't get hot enough to break the record of 98 degrees set in the 2016 preseason. Another thing to keep in mind is these temperatures are the daily high, not necessarily at kickoff, but a humid 96 degrees is still going to be downright miserable for fans taking in the action.
The temperature at kickoff for last year's was 20 degrees and the wind chill was a balmy 9 degrees. By the end of the game, the high temperature reached 29 degrees, but it was still the coldest game in Panthers history. For a little perspective, the average low temperature that time of year in Charlotte is 33. We had a high of 29! It was the coldest Christmas Eve in Charlotte history, but at least Santa brought the home crowd a dominant victory over the Motor City Kitties.
For whatever reason, it seems like the Lions always bring strange weather with them to Charlotte. WCNC Charlotte meteorologist Chris Mulcahy made that observation and did a little digging. It turns out the Panthers set another franchise weather mark against the Lions back in 2014.
"Lions, chill things down. It's the preseason!" Mulcahy joked on #WakeUpCLT To Go with forecaster Larry Sprinkle.
The kickoff temperature for the 2014 season home opener against Detroit was a comfortable 69 degrees. Talk about unusual, especially for early September. That game set the record for the coolest home opener in franchise history.
Bonus fact: When the Lions played in Charlotte all the way back in 2002, it was one of the wettest games ever with about an inch of rain falling during the game.
Hot weekend ahead
So far this year we've hit 95 degrees in Charlotte six times, including Thursday. If we get to 96 Friday (and it seems likely), it will be the hottest day of the year so far. Not counting Friday, we've been in the 90s 41 times so far this year.
Saturday could be even hotter with a forecast high of 97 degrees and a heat index pushing 102 degrees or more. Sunday will also be hot and humid, but the chance of afternoon showers and storms will keep us from reaching those extreme heat indices.
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