Good afternoon folks! We have a much better picture of the wintry precip threat late tonight into early Friday morning. Although it's not a guarantee as nothing is a lock in this line of work, its a good bet that areas north and east of the escarpment and Great Balsams will dodge the freezing rain setup, with areas along and nearby the escarpment under a threat for a tenth of an inch of freezing rain into Friday morning; details below. Rain moves in this evening for all of SW NC and peaks in coverage and intensity Friday afternoon, exiting Saturday morning, however a second round of spotty showers develops Saturday night. This second round will setup a brief round of snow for the highest ridgelines Saturday night (nothing to worry about) and for those traveling to and from Cullowhee for the WCU Commencement ceremony, you'll have nothing to worry about other than what to wear as showers start and end the day. Sunshine returns Sunday but this will be short lived as showers make a return sometime Monday late afternoon, spilling over into Tuesday. Temps all the while creep upward starting Sunday, peaking on Monday and make a return to normal levels by the middle of next week; upper 40's is average for mid December in the valleys.
As we mentioned above the threat remains for freezing rain and perhaps some sleet for portions of the area late tonight, but for our coverage area (N GA to Upstate of SC to Haywood Co to the TN line) the impacts will be limited. That being said, if you are driving before dawn Friday and happen to be going through Cashiers, Lake Toxaway, Rosman, Brevard, Mills River/Waynesville/Canton and points further northeast, we recommend delaying your trip till 9 - 10am or take extreme caution as icing on the roads is a real possibility. A quarter of an inch of ice is extremely disruptive (downed trees and power lines), however this event is calling for a tenth of an inch, so although power outages are not likely, the main impact will be travel.
For the rest of us across SW NC, we'll deal with a cold rain as temps dip into the mid - upper 30's for the vast majority of SW NC. Rain will continue into Friday, with steady showers throughout the day. Add in NE winds around 10mph and temps only warming to the upper 40's - low 50's and we end the work and school week (and semester) with an gray and chilly setup. Temps dip back into the upper 30's - mid 40's overnight into Saturday, with widespread showers continuing till about midnight, scaling back to scattered coverage closer to sunrise.
Showers wind down by the mid morning hours Saturday but cloudy skies remains overhead and temps make a run at the low 40's - low 50's depending upon elevation. The overall flow shifts and a westerly flow develops, allowing disturbances to pass overhead Saturday night, which will bring us scattered light showers for the valleys and light snow for the ridgelines. Temps Saturday night settle into the upper 20's - mid 30's, with winds around 10 - 15mph; an inch or two of snow is possible for the TN line and nearby ridgelines. Rainfall totals will average out to an inch across the region Thursday night through Saturday morning, with a few spots along the N GA line reaching the 1.5 - 2" mark.
Sunshine on Sunday will save the weekend and temps warm to the mid - upper 40's along the ridgelines, pushing to near 60°F in the lower elevations! Clouds fill back in Monday morning and showers return closer to sunset, although the timing for this event is not set in stone and will likely change. With this in mind, we'll hit the stop button and circle back on Saturday with an update, focusing on the early week rain event (no wintry precip expected).