Two Rounds of Ridgeline Snow
January 27, 2020
Good morning folks! As we type this discussion snow is falling across the highest ridgelines and snow levels will slowly move down in elevation throughout the day, stopping somewhere around 3500'. The NWS has issued a Winter Weather Advisory above 3500' for most of SW NC and it seems snowfall totals will range based on elevation, with the high range capping out around 6 - 7" for the Smokies. All of this precip moves east tonight and NW flow keeps a few snow showers along the TN line, but clearing skies will setup a sunny Tuesday. Moisture moves back in Wednesday afternoon, with another round of high elevation snow Wednesday night. Clouds and sun do a dance for Thursday and Friday, however confidence in the modeling past Thursday is low as we still do not have a firm grasp on the late week system. It does seem precip will move in sometime Friday or early Saturday, the main questions are how much and will it be snow or a cold rain; we will know much more by Wednesday morning. All in all, not the best week for those spending time outside but this is late January after all and this crummy type weather is to be expected.
As mentioned above snow is falling across the highest ridgelines as you read this discussion, with snow levels expected to move down in elevation as the day moves along. It seems the rain/snow line will hover around 3500', putting those who live above 4000' in the sweet spot for accumulating snow. We are going with 1 - 2" around 4000' and anywhere from 3 - 6" above 5000', with a handful of isolated 6 - 7" in the Smokies and directly along the TN line above 5500'. For the rest of us stuck in the valleys, we'll endure another day of cold rain with temps only reaching the low - mid 40's. Precip winds down this evening and reverts back to the TN line closer to midnight, with temps settling into the mid 20's along the ridgelines and low 30's in the valleys. It's possible a flake or two makes its way down into the valley, but we are not expecting anything outside of a trace or skiff of snow for the lower elevations closest to the Smokies.
Tuesday brings back sunshine and temps respond, warming to the mid 30's - low 50's depending upon elevation, with NW winds around 5 - 15mph; not too shabby for late January. Overnight lows bottom out to the mid 20's - low 30's once again under mostly clear skies.
Wednesday will start the day sunny but clouds move in quickly and cap temps to the upper 30's - upper 40's. Precip will develop sometime after 3pm, perhaps closer to sunset and continue overnight into the pre dawn hours on Thursday, peaking in coverage closer to midnight. A cold rain will start out for the valley but a transition over to a wintry mix or wet snow is possible after midnight; no accumulations expected for the valleys. Above 4000', it seems snow will fall for most of the event with another inch or two possible as temps bottom out to the upper 20's above 4500', while the valleys settle into the low 30's.
Clouds will linger for most of the morning hours Thursday and sunshine will make a few appearances, but overall Thursday will be a somewhat gray day. High clouds stream back into the region Friday and both days will feature temps in the upper 30's - upper 40's depending upon elevation.
We'll stop here as confidence in the forecast beyond Thursday is low and we would like another 48 hours to let the models work out the timing kinks. We'll post another discussion Wednesday morning and focus on the immediate snowfall setup for the higher elevations and take a much deeper look into the late week event.
Several inches of snow will fall above 3500' Monday into Monday evening; highest forecasted totals of 6 - 7" is likely in the Smokies.
Sunny Tuesday, more high elevation snow Wednesday night.
Passing clouds Thursday and Friday.