A Brief Wintry Mix then a Cold Rain
Good afternoon folks! We're closing out the work and school week on a sunny note and fair weather will carry over into Saturday with a drastic change occurring overnight into Sunday. A front will move into the region Saturday night and produce a wintry mix of precip across the region at the onset, becoming a cold rain by the early - mid morning hours on Sunday as warm air advection overtakes the weaker cold air damming. If you have travel plans for Sunday morning around sunrise, we are advising folks to check the weather conditions across your route beforehand, or if possible, delay an our or hour to ensure everything has kicked over to a plain rain. This should not be a major event and impact should be minor but whenever freezing rain is in play, especially when its dark, its better to be safe than sorry. Wintry precip aside, Sunday will be a washout with rain falling most of the day, winding down sometime during the mid - late afternoon hours but not before we pick up 1 - 1.5" across SW NC. As the front moves east and the upper level low migrates overhead Sunday night into Monday, we'll transition to a NW flow setup, one that develop snow as early as the pre dawn hours Monday morning and has the legs to last the entire day, ending sometime early Tuesday morning. Outside of the normal NW flow snow locations (TN line, NW facing ridgelines) its likely all of SW NC will experience snow showers Monday into Tuesday, but it does not look like accumulations will occur outside of the favored areas where up to 2 - 4" of snow is likely by sunrise on Tuesday. Sunshine then takes over for the rest of Tuesday and temps will go from below normal levels Tuesday to above normal by week's end, with fair weather expected Tuesday into Thursday.
If you have yard work to do we recommend squeezing it all in on Saturday, with temps rising to the upper 30's - upper 40's (similar to Friday) under sunny skies to start the day and high, thin clouds overhead by sunset. Showers break out during the evening hours and expand as the night progresses, with a mixed bag of freezing rain, sleet, and wet snow falling above 3500' - 4000'. Because the cold air damming setup will be the main driver for sub freezing temps aloft and at the surface, locations along or nearby the escarpment (area in which the mountains drop off to the foothills) are more likely to experience wintry precip compared to locations more central to SW NC and closer to the TN line. Temps overnight dip into the upper 20's - mid 30's depending upon elevation and all wintry precip will kick over to a cold, miserable rain shortly after sunrise on Sunday.
Temps Sunday will be locked into the low - upper 40's across the region with scattered light - moderate showers throughout the day, dropping 1 - 1.5" of rain across SW NC. Showers wind down region wide as we approach sunset and by the late evening hours the transition to NW flow should be underway, with snow levels dropping from the top down overnight into Monday. Light accumulations around an inch are possible by sunrise on Monday for the higher elevations, but the window for accumulating snowfall will be throughout the day, with coverage dropping off like a rock overnight into Tuesday morning. Exact amounts are tough to call this far out but its likely 2 - 4" of snow will fall in places like Cataloochee Ski Area, Soco Gap, Cataloochee Divide, Great Balsams and perhaps the northern edge of the Nantahala and Snowbird Mountains. Temps Monday will only make it to the upper 20's - upper 30's depending upon elevation and with NW winds around 10 - 20mph, it will be a blustery, cold day, followed by overnight lows in the low teens - low 20's.
Sunshine returns Tuesday with highs reaching the low 40's in the valleys, eventually warming to the low - mid 50's by Thursday with continuing sunshine. We'll stop here and circle back on Sunday with more detail about the moderate NW flow event slated for Sunday night and Monday.