A Snow Surprise; Sunny Tues - Thur
Good morning folks! We all woke up to a nice surprise this morning with large flakes falling at a light - moderate rate across the region around sunrise, winding down around the mid morning hours. This was not expected as the models showed moisture taking till the mid afternoon hours to arrive and with temps expected to reach the low 40's in the valleys, a rain/snow mix at best is what we originally forecasted. As of 10am a light dusting has been reported across the higher elevations, trace amounts in the valleys, and one report of 1" out of Graham County near the Skyway at 2800' is the highest total we have seen this morning.
Surprise snowfall aside, we expect temps to run cooler than previously forecasted now that the column is fully saturated and mid - high level clouds stream overhead the rest of the day in WSW flow. Another round of precip will shortly arrive after midday and with temps rising a few more degrees, we could see the rain/snow mix play out in the valleys but its more likely we'll see snow for the rest of the day regardless of elevation, with light intensities, large flake size, and a dusting possible for the lower elevations, especially once the sun sets. If you live above 3000' your chance for accumulating snow increases and a dusting up to 2" is likely this afternoon through the late night hours. Places like Cataloochee Ski Area stand a chance at picking 2 - 4" on the higher end. Even though this will be a light event, be sure to take it easy on the roads, especially bridges, as there was little to no salt treatment last night or this morning. Temps today will reach the low - upper 30's depending upon elevation and all snowfall will end by the early morning hours on Tuesday. Overnight lows settle into the mid - upper 20's across the region.
Sunshine returns Tuesday and sticks around through Thursday with temps increasing day to day, starting in the upper 30's - low 50's Tuesday afternoon and warming to the mid 40's - upper 50's by Thursday afternoon! Overnight lows will settle into the low - upper 20's each night under mostly clear skies, expect for Thursday night as clouds build ahead of the incoming cold front scheduled to arrive Friday morning.
Our next chance for snow is on Friday and so far this event looks to be a light one, with precip breaking out after midday and ending overnight into Saturday. This front is not robust and will encounter a dry airmass but this will likely mean evaporational cooling, which should allow precip to fall as snow across most of the region as the column cools. A rain/snow mix is possible for the deeper valleys like the Nantahala Gorge, Bryson City, Robbinsville but if enough cloud cover builds before midday then perhaps evaporational cooling can bring temps down to freezing levels and allow for snow in the lower elevations. As of Monday morning accumulations look light, under 1 - 2" for the higher elevations and we will continue to monitor this event for any changes. The models show afternoon temps reaching the mid 30's - mid 40's depending upon elevation, but this may be too high and will likely be adjusted downward in our next update on Wednesday.
A cold snap arrives just in time for the weekend with highs only reaching the upper 20's - upper 30's depending upon elevation each day, all under sunny skies. We'll stop here and circle back on Wednesday unless this afternoon's event is stronger than forecasted. Enjoy the snow!