Good afternoon folks! After picking up another inch of rain this past weekend for the majority of SW NC (a handful of sites surpassed 1.25"), we are enjoying the sunshine today as best we can as below normal temps continue to remind us winter is not over. We'll deal with 10 - 20 degree below average temps through Wednesday, followed by a slow warming trend beginning Thursday, peaking this weekend to the low 60's across the valley floor. Although temps return to normal late this week, there will be a concession as we have to endure another round of rain, possibly heavy at times on Sunday. With this in mind, if you have outdoor chores to finish up, it looks like the driest days this week will be today through Thursday, with light showers returning sometime Friday and slowly increasing in coverage as the weekend comes into play.
Tonight temps dip into the mid teens along the ridgelines and low 20's for the valleys, with a light NW wind around 5 - 10mph across the region; all under clear skies with a few passing clouds around sunrise. Cataloochee Ski Area has been making snow since Sunday night and is likely to keep making snow all the way into Thursday morning to get ahead of the warmer temps scheduled to arrive late this week.
Tuesday will be a blustery day, while Wednesday looks to be the coldest day of the week, but either way you slice it, conditions will feel brutal after we enjoyed near to above normal temps these past few weeks. Temps Tuesday reach the upper 20's - low 40's, while on Wednesday they drop a degree or two for the high, only hitting the mid 20's - upper 30's depending upon elevation. This is due to a dry cold front pushing through Tuesday afternoon/evening that will usher in colder temps, but also strong westerly winds around 15 - 25mph, gusting to 40mph along the ridgelines. With overnight lows in the single digits - mid teens Tuesday night, wind chill values will dip to near zero at times, perhaps even below zero along the ridgelines. Blustery conditions roll into Wednesday but should abate as the day moves along, with clear skies overhead both Tuesday and Wednesday nights; low temps Wednesday night dip into the upper teens - mid 20's.
Thursday marks the beginning of the warming trend with afternoon highs reaching the mid 30's along the ridgelines to the upper 40's across the valley floor. Temps continue to warm into Friday, but the range from the valley floor to the ridgeline will be subtle as temps climb to the mid 40's - low 50's depending upon elevation. Clouds fill in Thursday night and some of the models bring light precip into the region before sunrise Friday, which would give us a round of light wintry precip before kicking over to rain, however other models point to a late morning arrival. With this discrepancy in mind, we will go with an hour or two of light snow or sleet Friday morning before kicking over to all rain by midday, but keep in mind this forecast is likely to change.
The weekend ahead pushes temps into the upper 40's - low 60's each afternoon, with scattered showers on Saturday and widespread heavy rain on Sunday, possibly mixed with thunderstorms if the front clears the region in time. We'll release our next forecast discussion Wednesday and focus on the possible period of wintry precip early Friday and rainfall amounts for the weekend.