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The sun sets over Folly Beach on Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2019. Lauren Petracca/Staff

By midday Thursday, it was officially hotter than ever for this early in February — a record. Friday could be just as warm.

But cold air sweeping in Friday evening will change that in a hurry.

The high temperature reached 80 degrees at noon Thursday, breaking a 20-year-old record of 79. That followed a record high Wednesday of 79, which broke an 11-year-old record of 77.

Friday's high will be close to 80 degrees, too — again threatening to break a record.

But by Friday night, temperatures will plunge into the mid- and lower-40s in the Charleston area. The high won't scrap its way back to the 60s until Monday at least.

"By Sunday, a lot of us will be down in the 30s (overnight)," said meteorologist Pete Mohlin of the National Weather Service office in North Charleston.

The official temperature is recorded at the office.

"It will be a strong cold front, but not as strong as last time," he said.

In other words, this could almost be it for anything like winter in Charleston — a year after sub-freezing cold and January snow froze the place. The federal Climate Prediction Center is calling for warmer-than-normal temperatures in the region for the next three months, except for a cool spell about a month out.

The heat arrived just as international meteorology agencies announced 2018 was the fourth warmest year on record. The warmest years were, in order, 2016, 2015 and 2017. The agencies warned the climate will continue to heat up.

In the U.S., 2018 was the 14th warmest on record, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

In Charleston, temperatures were about 2 percent higher than normal, according to data from AccuWeather, a private forecasting company, that was reported in The New York Times.  

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Reach Bo Petersen at @bopete on Twitter or 843-937-5744.

Science and environment reporter. Author of Washing Our Hands in the Clouds.