MLK Day Snow; Low 50's Tues & Wed!

 

Quick Update (1/18):

NW flow is underway this morning but earlier in the night, between 8pm - 12am the overall flow was out of the west-south-west. This allowed a round of scattered snow showers to traverse the area, unimpeded by the Smokies or the Great Balsams and resulted in many areas across SW NC picking up a light coating of snow. Typically the NW flow snows we experience in winter are not strong enough to overcome the dryslope effect for towns like Bryson City, Franklin, Sylva, Cullowhee and really anywhere south of Lake Glenville/Big Ridge, but alas, this round of moisture snuck in during an ideal orientation. Looking at the archived radar it seems even the Nantahala Mountains may have aided higher rates, which explains why Highlands picked up an inch and experienced heavier rates than nearby locations. This certainly is not what we expected, with a dusting at most for the valleys closer to the TN line in our original forecast. 

 

Enjoy the surprise snow and if you are heading into work, give it one more hour till the sun comes up to make sure you can see any patches of ice and snow on the roads and to also allow it to melt. We are seeing spots of snow on roads on webcams this morning, mainly secondary, shaded roads. Send us any observations you may have to pj@mtnwx.com!  

Original Discussion (1/17):

 

Good morning folks! Yesterday's snowfall was a nice treat with convective snow showers and a few snow squalls passing through the region, giving some locations a nice blanket of snow while others enjoyed the falling snow with little to no accumulations. The highest total we have seen this morning is out of the Cherohala Skyway at 5000' with 7" reported by the NCDOT, followed by a general swath of 2 - 3" across the higher elevations. Some valley locations got in on the action with a surprise 1" in Dillsboro but for the most part a dusting was the norm for valley towns like Bryson City, Franklin, and Cullowhee; Maggie Valley picked up 2". We'll enjoy a break in the action today with passing high clouds and slightly warmer temps, followed by another round of light snow for the higher elevations tonight into Monday late morning. This next round of snow will favor the NW flow locations and places like Cataloochee Ski Area should pick up 1" (after picking up 2" yesterday) by the mid morning hours on Monday. The rest of SW NC will experience clearing skies and temps a few degrees below normal for mid January. Zonal flow aloft will allow temps on Tuesday to warm to the upper 30's - low 50's under sunny skies, with a repeat performance on Wednesday ahead of the next system that should bring us rain instead of snow. The models are split on how much precip may fall Thursday into Friday and for now we are following the NWS lead, forecasting light rainfall amounts and even warmer temps as they hit the low - mid 50's both days. It is possible we experience some snow Wednesday night ahead of the main event, but this will be short lived and washed away once temps warm above freezing. Beyond Friday its a toss up on the models and we will steer clear for the time being.

 

Sunday into MLK Day will be a nice setup for the local slopes as this is typically their busiest weekend of the season and any natural snowfall is a plus for those visiting our region. Passing high clouds mixed with short lived periods of sunshine will make up the action today and temps will warm to the upper 20's - low 40's depending upon elevation. A second upper level low will approach the region tonight and this will usher moisture into the region in a westerly fashion, becoming northwesterly as the night moves along. Light snow will begin this evening and continue into the late morning hours on Monday across the favored NW flow locations (TN line, nearby ridgelines) with light accumulations of a dusting to an inch for the lower elevations in northern Haywood County, while the higher elevation, NW facing ridgelines pick up 1 - 2" and likely higher across the TN line in the Smokies. Temps tonight dip into the upper teens - upper 20's depending upon elevation and only rebound to the upper 20's - upper 30's on Monday. The rest of SW NC will experience mostly sunny skies after the mid morning hours and all of WNC will be under clear skies by the late afternoon - early evening hours. Temps Monday night dip into the low - upper 20's depending upon elevation.

 

Tuesday and Wednesday look pleasant for mid - late January as sunny skies sit overhead and zonal flow allows temps to reach the upper 30's - low 50's each afternoon. There is a weak frontal passage slated for late Tuesday afternoon but this should dry up before it reaches the mountains, however it if does not then we only expect passing clouds before sunset, clearing out by the late evening hours overnight into Wednesday; low temps in the upper 20's - mid 30's. The precip event that begins late Wednesday evening will encounter temps in the upper 20's - mid 30's and because of this, snow is likely to fall overnight into Thursday but coverage will be isolated and rates light, translating to no accumulations for the lower elevations and possibly a dusting above 4500'.

 

A chilly rain is on tap for Thursday and Friday with temps reaching the upper 30's - low 50's across the region, with a possibility for temps to hit the mid 50's across the more southwestern valleys like Robbinsville and Andrews. We'll stop here and circle back on Tuesday with a focus on the upcoming late week rain event and subsequent pattern change that is showing up on the models for next weekend.

Weather Highlights

Highest total from Saturday's snowfall was 7" along the Cherohala Skyway at 5000' (via NCDOT). 

A light round of snow develops Sunday night, winds down Monday midday with 1 - 2" likely across the favored NW flow locations. 

Sunny Tues and Wed with temps hitting the low 50's across the valleys! 

Rain develops Thursday and lingers into Friday with temps holding to the low 50's for the lower elevations. 

    Highlands ended 2020 with 136.50", only 3.45" from beating Mt Mitchell for the NC Annual Rainfall Record. 

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