Region Wide Snow Thursday
February 19, 2020
Good morning folks! We are less than 24 hours out from a region wide snow event, but this will be a rather light event for SW NC, although the higher elevations above 5000' will cash in with 3" plus totals. The real winners will be somewhere along the NC coast, perhaps closer to SE Virginia, as their totals could eclipse 6", with some models pointing to near a foot! Back to our neck of the woods, we only expect a general 1 - 3" of snow across the region, however this event will be a mix of factors that include elevation dependent, location, and duration. Things should wind down late Thursday afternoon, with sunshine moving back in on Friday, followed by a generally dry weekend with a slight chance for showers late Sunday afternoon/early evening. Another round of widespread showers swings through Monday, drying out Tuesday, but of course you aren't here for the five day forecast, you want to know all you can about the upcoming snow!
Let's dive right in with what we know. The front that brought us rain yesterday is now to our south and east, setting up a track for a low pressure system to follow that will generally begin around the GA/FL line and ride along the eastern seaboard tomorrow. Moisture associated with this system will fill in across the Southeast, moving west to east through the day on Thursday. We'll begin to see snow fall shortly after sunrise, very light at first and there may even be a brief period where some rain mixes in for the lowest valleys such as Bryson City, Franklin and Cullowhee; Waynesville should be all snow throughout the event. Snowfall rates pick up around lunchtime and this is when we expect the accumulations really to pile up, with snow tapering off around the early - mid afternoon hours. If you live below 3500', you can expect anywhere from 0.5 - 2" of snow and I know this seems like a high range, but we are only talking about a tenth of an inch of liquid precip difference and that is similar to a light rain shower for about 10 minutes; a very tight margin. For those above 3500', there is no worry about rain as snow will fall throughout the event but now we need to talk about location. If you live closer to the SC state line, you have a better shot at picking up 4", however if you live closer to Asheville then your chances drop down to about 1 - 2", even for the higher elevations. This is due to the stark drop off in precip amounts as the vast majority of the moisture will be to our south and east, putting SW NC in a spot that barely picks up moisture (our neighbors to our NW in the TN valley will be lucky to pick up a solid dusting). With all of this being said, we think the highest totals will be around 4 - 6" for Mt LeConte and most points along the Great Balsams, with Highlands likely to pick up the most for a populated area at 3 - 4". Places like Franklin, Sylva, and Cullowhee will scrape out a dusting up to an inch, maybe two but Waynesville should pickup 2".
Temps tonight will dip into the upper 20's - mid 30's across the region, with dry air in place ahead of the incoming moisture (this will help the valleys kick over to snow very quickly, if not from the onset). Temps don't move much at all tomorrow, only hitting 30°F along the ridgelines while the valleys struggle to get past the upper 30's. Soil temps are not at or below freezing and of course we always have to consider the angle of the sun as we approach the month of March, but accumulations on roadways are likely above 3500', especially for the normally shaded areas.
All precip winds down Thursday late afternoon/early evening and clouds clear out Thursday, with temps plummeting to the low - upper teens depending upon elevation. Temps only warm to the mid 20's - upper 30's depending upon elevation on Friday, even with sunny skies overhead.
We'll enjoy a dry weekend with sunshine on Saturday, followed by increasing clouds Sunday. Temps will finally warm up by Saturday as they push into the low 40's - low 50's and this will repeat on Sunday with a degree or two difference.
We'll stop here and circle back Friday morning with a post event update and a more detailed look at the weekend and upcoming rain event Monday into Tuesday. Have fun out there!!!
Snow begins around sunrise and ends by the mid - late afternoon hours on Thursday.
Temps bottom out to the teens Thursday night, so watch out for black ice Friday morning.
Temps return to the 50's this weekend!