Last Minute Updates; Nowcasting
Good Morning Folks! It's 9am and light wintry precip has begun to fall across the area in a few spots and we expect coverage to increase as the morning moves along, with widespread coverage by the afternoon hours. For most of us the precip will start out as a sleet/snow/rain mix, quickly becoming all snow as the day moves along. For those up high, say above 4000', it should be an all snow event for the most part, however all of the area will experience periods of sleet and even freezing rain at times, mainly because the Cold Air Damming setup isn't able to push dry and cold air across the entire area.
Temps are currently in the low - upper 30's across the region and will hold to these levels till precip moves in and drops slightly, locking in through the remainder of the afternoon and overnight hours into Sunday. The short term models point to periods of heavy snow (2 - 4"/hr rates) during the evening and early morning hours for the Southern Highlands Plateau, which includes towns such as Highlands, Cashiers, Lake Toxaway and so on, with even more snow (in terms of totals) falling over Brevard and areas just off the Parkway. It seems the highest totals for the event for all of NC and SC will occur around the intersection of Jackson, Haywood and Transylvania counties or Mt Mitchell, where up to 24" plus could fall by Monday evening. This is due to the nature of the overall flow as it pushes in from the east, banking up against the mountains that jut out of the foothills and Blue Ridge escarpment area. Typically deep snow events push in from the south and southwest, or at times the northwest, but this setup will favor those just east of the Great Balsams.
Travel will go downhill starting this afternoon and if you need to run out and pick something up, do so before noon as roads will begin to collect snow shortly before sunset.
Snow rates will peak just before sunrise on Sunday as the low pressure system pushes up the Atlantic coastline we will begin to notice a drop in both intensities and coverage, beginning sometime around 9 - 11am. This is a possible window for sleet and freezing rain to enter the picture as a dry slot pushes in from the NW, eating into the snow growth zone of the atmosphere, but do not fret too much as colder air will soon follow the dry slot, with the upper level low in tow. This upper level low will keep spotty snow showers continuing across the region through the day on Sunday, with coverage and intensities much lighter than what we we'll see overnight into Sunday, but light accumulations are likely throughout the day. Temps Sunday only make it to the upper 20's - mid 30's depending upon elevation and settle into the mid 20's - low 30's overnight into Monday.
Snow coverage for most of the region winds down Monday, first for areas along the SC state line and lastly the TN line, however NW flow in the systems wake could keep light snow going till sunset on Monday for locations like Cataloochee Ski Area. Speaking of Cat, they are likely to exceed a foot with this storm and coupled with recent snowmaking operations, this will be the best conditions of the year by far and possibly all season, pending another storm similar to this size doesn't materialize.
We could go on and on with more detail but we'll stop here and provide another update late tonight to ensure all things are on track, because the one thing we have learned over the past 11 years is that winter storms in this part of the country can always throw you a curveball. Stay safe, have fun and send us your observation to firstname.lastname@example.org!