From Rain to Snow to Sunshine
Good Afternoon Folks! Clouds have filled in across the region and will thicken as the afternoon and evening move along, with showers moving in shortly after midnight. Widespread showers make up all of the action for Thursday with coverage waning a bit on Friday, however showers still continue, although at some point during the afternoon on Friday rain will kick over to snow for the higher elevations. This is due to the overall flow transitioning from the southeast to the northwest, ushering in colder air while precip continues to move across the region. The NWS has mentioned this setup is analogous to past events that have produced high totals for the usual NW flow locations, however all of SW NC will be spared with only a dusting likely for those not along or near the TN line. After moisture dries up late Friday evening we expect a sunny and dry weekend and the models point to this fair weather extending into Christmas Eve (Monday). Past Monday we will wait to discuss any details as some models want to bring a disturbance through early Tuesday, while others have it far enough away to keep us dry and this split in the solution should be worked out by Friday morning. All in all, a soggy and somewhat chilly 48 hours lie ahead with a few locations across the area experiencing snow, while the rest of us dry out just in time for the weekend.
Temps tonight dip into the upper 30's - low 40's with light showers moving in before sunrise on Thursday. Widespread showers move in during the morning hours and hold steady through the day, gradually scaling back by Friday morning. Most of the area will pick up an inch of rain on Thursday, while Friday offers up anywhere from a half inch up to an inch. The highest rain totals will be along the escarpment as moisture banks against the SC state line, which is no surprise and its possible a 3" report comes in from this area when its all said and done. Temps Thursday reach the low - upper 40's depending upon elevation, settling into the upper 30's - low 40's once again Thursday night. Friday will be cooler as temps only climb a few degrees above the morning low, with temps along the ridgelines peaking to the low 40's sometime around midday, while the rest of us in the valleys experience temps in the mid 40's. As the overall flow transitions with the passage of the upper level low later in the day, temps will drop quickly for those who live 4000', more so for those who live closer to the TN line. Sub freezing temps are likely before sunset for these areas, while the valleys and lower elevation sites take till the late evening hours. Snowfall amounts will vary drastically based on elevation and proximity to the TN line, with places like the Smokies picking up 4 - 6" and Cataloochee Ski Area closing in on 2 - 3". Waynesville could pick up an inch, same for Balsam and Cowee Gap, however further south and east into the region, a dusting is the best we can hope for. Temps Friday night crash to the low - upper 20's with clearing skies for all of SW NC during the pre dawn hours.
One mention for the above 48 hour period will be the strong winds as they become steady around 10 - 20mph Thursday afternoon, gusting to 40mph for the higher elevations. As the next phase of the event kicks into gear, we will see a slight decline in wind speeds for those closer to the SC state line, whereas those who live near the TN line will continue to experience strong winds, however this time they will come out of the NW.
Sunshine returns Saturday and Sunday and temps do their best to respond to the abundant sunshine, pushing into the mid 40's Saturday and low 50's Sunday for the valleys; upper 30's and mid 40's for the higher elevations. Overnight lows will be colder across the valley floor Saturday night than the ridgelines due to radiational cooling, falling to the mid 20's for Cullowhee and low - mid 30's for Cataloochee Ski Area.
Our next discussion will roll out Friday, but in the mean time, stay dry and send us any questions or observations you may have over the next 48 hours!