Good afternoon folks! We are enjoying mostly sunny skies this afternoon, even with temps below normal for this time of the year (normal high in Cullowhee for March 16 is 61°F). Fair weather will continue into next week, with a brief shot of ridgeline flurries Sunday night; nothing expected for the valleys. Sunshine on Monday carries into Wednesday, although partly cloudy skies are likely to develop late in the day Wednesday. This increase in cloud cover is associated with an incoming upper level low that is forecasted to arrive sometime Thursday. The models show the potential for an elevation dependent snow event Thursday, however we are not sold on this solution just yet and if it were to occur, it would only impact the higher elevations. We encourage everyone to take caution with spreading any social media post regarding the snow potential on Thursday and wait till at least Monday for the models to hone in on the timing and track of the storm. Regardless, temps will remain below normal through all of next week, but we're only talking about a 4 - 6 degree drop in temps, so nothing too frigid for mid March.
The high cirrus clouds passing overhead today will exit this evening but return around midnight and exit once again Sunday morning, however this will temper radiational cooling potential and lows will settle into the low - upper 20's depending upon elevation. Sunshine tomorrow allows temps to push back into the low 40's - mid 50's and NW winds will make for a slightly chilly day, but the increasing angle of the sun should offset this a bit. Temps bottom out to the low 30's for the valley Sunday night under clear skies, while the ridgelines along and near the TN line deal with NW winds around 20mph and flurries till the pre dawn hours on Monday.
Monday through Wednesday will be quiet as mostly sunny skies sit overhead and temps gradually warm from the upper 30's - low 50's Monday to the low 40's - mid 50's Wednesday; we might not even notice the warm-up. Overnight lows will settle into the low - mid 20's along the ridgelines and upper 20's - low 30's across the valleys each night; clear skies Monday and Tuesday night, mostly cloudy skies late Wednesday night.
The models point to an upper level low pushing overhead Thursday, perhaps as early as 7 - 9am and if the track is directly overhead, there is a good chance snow will fall as opposed to a light rain. The issue with hinging any wintry precip forecast on a exact track is that the low could move 20 - 50 miles in one direction and leave us with little to no precip or all rain. The saying, "an upper level low is a weatherman's woe" rings true in this scenario but this is not our first setup like this and from experience we have learned to wait till at least 72 hours out before putting together a forecast. With this in mind, know that the potential for snow exist, nothing major if it were to occur but still impactful and we will wait till Monday before we discuss any details. Our next discussion will come out Monday afternoon, perhaps around 2 - 4pm.