Elevation Dependent Snow
Good Morning Folks! The forecast is on track with several sites along the escarpment such as Lake Toxaway, Highlands and several in the Panthertown Valley area reporting 3" plus totals for the event, while the rest of us in SW NC are reporting 1.5 - 2.5" totals. More rain is falling this morning and will continue to do so till the early afternoon hours, as we expect rain to kick over to snow from the top down, meaning the valleys won't get in on the action till this evening. This delayed transition of course will limit accumulations, however for those above 4000', this could be a nice little event before Christmas. Sunshine will move in tomorrow and linger into Sunday morning, however clouds and light precip swing through quickly as a front crosses the region late Sunday. Drying should occur just as quickly and this sets Christmas Eve up with sunny conditions, which should carry over into Christmas Day (Monday - Tuesday).
Another half inch up to an inch of rain is expected to fall today, exceeding our forecasted totals but as we mentioned in our last discussion, we wouldnt be surprised if several locations exceeded the 2 - 3" mark. Temps have more or less hit their maximum for the day and for those who live above 4000', you'll see temps drop below freezing before sunset and rain kick over to snow sometime before midday. Temps continue to fall as the afternoon moves along and by the evening hours sub freezing temps are likely for the valley, with a wet rain/snow mix falling. The favored areas for this elevation dependent snow event will be along and near the TN line, above 3000', as the overall flow transitions from the southeast to the northwest today. We expect 4 - 6" for the Smokies and Great Balsams, while Cataloochee Ski Area picks up 2 - 3" and Waynesville an inch. Further into SW NC in places like Bryson City, Franklin and Cullowhee, a dusting is possible but an inch may occur if a strong snow shower moves overhead. Temps tonight bottom out to the low - upper 20's, so black ice is a possibility for a few hours tomorrow morning, with snow chances winding down from the SC state line to the TN line past midnight, ending just after sunrise Saturday along the TN line. One notable mention will be the wind for the higher elevations, whipping at 15 - 20mph out of the NW and gusting to 40 - 45mph at times.
Saturday offers up sunshine and temps in the upper 30's - mid 40's with strong winds continuing for the higher elevations, while the valleys only deal with speeds around 10 - 20mph. Temps bottom out to the mid 20's for the valley and low 30's for the ridgelines Saturday due to radiational cooling as clear skies sit overhead.
Sunday features a passing cold front that will bring light precip to the region and possible wet snow for the highest elevations (above 5000'). Temps Sunday reach the low 40's - low 50's depending upon elevation and this front will be quick moving, resulting in clearing skies Sunday night into Monday; temps dip into the upper 20's - low 30's.
Monday (Christmas Eve) and Tuesday (Christmas Day) both offer up sunshine that should allow for stress free travel when visiting friends and family. Temps push into the low 40's - low 50's both days.
Our next discussion will come out Sunday morning.