Winter Returns Tonight. Your Afternoon Updated Forecast.

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Good Sunday Afternoon. Wet weather is already filling back in across the area as the front that passed through earlier is stalling along the southeast coastline. An upper low is situated about 30 miles Northwest of Alabester Alabama. This area of low pressure will track east-southeast into middle Georgia and deepen overnight. As it deepens, a front will develop along the Blue Ridge that will dynamically cool the atmosphere from the top down creating a change to wintery precipitation, atleast across The Blue Ridge.

In the near term from this afternoon and into early tonight temperatures will slowly cool off into the upper 50’s. At the same time lift will increase across the western carolina’s creating areas of heavy rainfall. This will even start out as rain in the mountains. The latest guidance suggests that snow will start mixing in around the highest elevations (above 5000ft) between 11pm and 1am. The snow levels will steadily fall from there through early Monday Morning.

How low do snow levels go? Well it is becoming increasingly likely that snow could fall across the western foothills. For that reason The National Weather Service has issued a Winter Weather Advisory for Burke, Caldwell, and McDowell Counties. The ground is warm but this is one of the most dynamic systems we have seen in some time across Western NC. I never put hopes in cold air chasing precipitation. It almost never works out. 95% of the time the precipitation pulls away before the cold air can make it over the mountains. This time the cold air is coming from aloft.

As the low cuts off and strengthens tonight there will be a strong frontal boundary develop over the Blue Ridge. Heights will crash and snow levels will plummet quickly once it develops. This low pressure looks like it will be around 997mb as it makes it’s pass by through Central and Eastern NC tomorrow. It should follow the frontal boundary that just came through last night. As the new front rapidly moves east, precipitation will mix with and then go to rain. The dynamics are so impressive with this that some should expect thundersnow in the mountains and foothills. Though the ground is warm it is apparent that narrow bands where thunderstorms occur will produce enough snow (where it is cold enough for snow) to coat the ground and roads for a short time. Once the band weakens you will notice melting, fast. Evaporative cooling near the ground though will lower those ground temperatures quickly. Bridges, decks, grassy surfaces, and anything elevated will get the biggest coatings. This is going to be a wet snow with sleet and/or graupel mixing in. That too will cut down on totals. Low temperatures Monday Morning will be around 36°. Just like how frost develops when the air temperature is 35-36°, the surface temperature right there at the ground can reach freezing. So the grass petals that are elevated can quickly drop to 32° with evaporative cooling allowing for accumulation. At most, most roads will remain just wet but those bridges could build up a slushy accumulation.

With the dynamics that will be in place due to the deeping low and associated developing front, expect heavy rain overnight to. In the foothills any change over to snow would come after 3am we believe right now. Up to that point models indicate that under the abundant lift, rainfall totals of 1.5 to 2 inches will likely be common. Additionally, strong to severe storms cannot be ruled out as close by as Anson County, roughly along that old frontal boundary that came through here Saturday Night. Creeks and rivers are running below normal still so the threat of widespread flash flooding isn’t too elevated. Standing water on roads though could cause hydroplaning accidents. Remember if you come across flooded roadways, do not cross them.

As if all of that is not enough high winds are going to become a concern as we go into Monday Morning. That deepening low pressure will tighten the gradient winds between it and high pressure that will be trying to build in front the west. Wind is somewhat of a bear to forecast ahead of time, as you see in the hurricane season with tropical cyclone intensity forecasts. For now will forecast 15 – 20 mph winds with gusts to 40 mph in the morning and into early tomorrow afternoon. Up along the Blue Ridge winds will likely be higher.

The graphics below are model forecasts. Please keep in mind when viewing these that most of this will melt due to warm ground temperatures.

SREF Ensembles with probabilities of seeing less than 1 inch of snow
SREF Ensemble Average Snow Totals (Average of 27 different algorithms) Most of this will likely melt
GFS Ensemble Average Snow Accumulation (Hickory is 1.3 inches) Remember: Most will melt.
Euro ensembles ( 0.8 of an inch at Hickory) Remember: Most of this will melt.
GFS Ensemble projected precipitation overnight through Monday Morning.
Euro Ensemble average total of precipitation projections tonight.
Euro projected wind gusts

So as you can see above there are several different solutions for snow, wind, and precipitation amounts.

Here is the forecast total precipitation:

Here are the forecast snow totals:

Forecast snow totals

Published by wxchristopher

Chief Meteorologist

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