From Heavy Rain to Wind Whipped Flurries
Good afternoon folks! Although not confirmed till tomorrow's morning report, it seems Highlands has reached the 100" milestone on the year after a half inch of rain has fallen across the area this morning. This makes it four years in a row Highlands and most of the Plateau has surpassed 100" on the year, with an annual average of 87.69". In 2020 they broke their own record with 136.50", only 3.45" shy of beating the state record.
We are in for much more rain and stronger storms this evening into the pre dawn hours and again Saturday evening into the pre dawn hours Sunday, with a light round of rain sandwiched in between late Friday into Saturday morning. We'll pick up healthy totals over the next four to five days with most of SW NC collecting 1.5 - 2.25", while the Smokies, Unicoi, Snowbird mountains and Plateau/escarpment cash in on 3.5 - 4.5" of rain over the same timeframe. On the backend of this rain window will be a switchover to snow Sunday evening into the pre dawn hours Monday. This will be a NW flow event and for those unfamiliar, these events favor the TN line and nearby high elevation NW facing ridgelines like the Cataloochee Divide, Plott Balsams, etc. These locations will manage a half inch up to two inches overnight into Monday, with near seasonable temps expected to kick start the first full week of the new year. Temps moderate slightly Tuesday into Wednesday but manage to sit only 2 - 5 degrees above normal this go around, coupled with overnight lows back in the 20's and 30's. This is welcomed news for Cataloochee Ski Area as they are forced to shut down this evening, not opening back up till Jan 3rd. This upcoming cool down and shot of snow will allow them to rebuild a healthy base in no time; they can go from zero base to 18 - 24" (entire mountain) in less than 36 hours.
We start the timeline Thursday morning after we picked up another 0.5 - 1.5" of rain overnight. Scattered showers linger across the region Thursday morning, waning as we enter the late afternoon hours, with another day in the mid - upper 60's across the valleys. We'll notice very high humidity levels outside and this is due to a steady supply of SW flow into the region. Isolated showers linger through the overnight hours into Friday and we may end up with a mix of clouds and sun to start the day; overnight lows in the 50's, roughly 30 degrees above normal for the end of December.
New Year's Eve celebrations will have to contend with scattered light showers, however the bulk of the action has shifted to later in the day on Saturday, well after the stroke of midnight. Temps overnight will dip into the 50's, with a midnight temp around 57°F for the valleys. Temps return to the upper 60's Saturday and shower coverage expands after midday to regionwide, with heavy rain and thunderstorms slated for the late evening hours. This is when we expect another 0.75 - 2" of rain to fall across the region. Lows bottom out to the low - upper 40's depending upon elevation.
Sunday will maintain scattered coverage into the pre dawn hours but drop to isolated coverage by 9am, fizzling out to passing clouds and increasing winds after midday. Temps climb to the upper 40's - mid 50's depending upon elevation and a changeover to NW flow occurs before midday, allowing for a rapid decline in temps around the mid afternoon hours, bottoming out to the mid teens - mid 20's overnight into Monday. Light - moderate snow with NW winds around 15 - 25mph will make for wintry conditions along and near the TN line, while the remainder of SW NC experiences wind whipped flurries.
Snow showers wind down after midday Monday for the TN line, with sunshine taking over for the rest of SW NC as soon as the early - mid morning hours. Temps Monday only manage to make it to the upper 20's - low 40's depending upon elevation, which is a few degrees below normal for early January. Temps moderate to the 50's Tuesday and Wednesday under continuing sunshine.
We'll stop here and circle back Friday afternoon with a better look at snow chances for the valleys, although the most we can hope for are trace amounts. ENJOY!