Light Snow Accumulations Sunday Evening
Good morning folks! We picked up decent rainfall Wednesday night into Thursday morning, with most of SW NC reporting 0.75 - 1.5" of rain. We're in for more rain this afternoon (Friday), perhaps a 0.25 - 0.50" swath by the time the sun rises on Saturday, most of this falling from the late evening - pre dawn hours. This will make for a wet NYE outing for many, but at least temps will be on the warm side of normal and not the despised 33°F and rain setup we often see in winter. Shower activity will not shut off completely Saturday morning but coverage will scale back to isolated, with areas of drizzle, mainly along the Plateau as SW flow remains strong. A second round of rain moves through Saturday evening with similar results to this past Wednesday; 1 - 2.5" of rain regionwide as embedded thunderstorms and heavy rain sweep the region. Most of the action will occur just before sunrise on Sunday and precip will linger through the morning hours on Sunday, however coverage will scale back to scattered as westerly flow takes over, ushering in much colder air. This intrusion of colder air will send temps crashing after midday, kicking rain over to snow above 5000' as soon as 11am - 1pm, reaching the valley floor before sunset (5 - 6pm). A wave of energy will enter the region (according to the models) Sunday evening and this is our best window for accumulating snow; details below. Below normal temps linger in northwesterly flow on Monday under sunny skies, with temps struggling to climb out of the low - mid 40's in the valleys! Temps moderate Tuesday into Wednesday, returning to the low - mid 50's under continuing sunshine. A round of rain and snow is possible Wednesday night into Thursday, however this is so far out in time we will only mention it and not go into any details.
Kicking off the timeline and New Year, we'll start Saturday with isolated showers and cloudy skies peppering the region, increasing/building as the day moves along, becoming regionwide shortly before sunset. Temps Saturday reach the low - mid 50's above 5000', while the valleys push to the upper 60's - low 70's, with a spring like feel to the air as excessive moisture levels build out of the SW. Heavy rain, strong winds, and thunderstorms swing into the region by the late evening hours, peaking around 12am - 4am Sunday morning; overnight lows dip to the low - upper 40's.
Sunday is the main event for many reasons, one of which is the dramatic drop in temps as the day moves along. We'll start the day in the low - upper 40's across the region and by the late morning hours, the higher elevations above 5000' will peak to the upper 40's, dropping to the mid - upper 20's by sunset. The valleys will lag behind by several hours, peaking to the low 60's around 12 - 2pm, crashing to the upper 20's by the mid evening hours. Light rain will be present around sunrise and linger for most of the morning, bottoming out to a handful of showers after midday, with an increase later that evening. This evening window will be our best shot for accumulating snow and as of this morning the safe bets for at least a dusting of snow reside above 3500' (regionwide), with the highest range around 2 - 3" in places like the Smokies, Cataloochee Divide, Plott Balsams, highest spots in Cowee, Unicoi, and Snowbird Mountains; Cataloochee Ski Area has a chance at 2", but 1" is the safe bet. Temps continue to plunge overnight, settling into the mid teens - low 20's depending upon elevation, with snow activity winding down as we approach midnight, fizzling out completely by sunrise.
Monday through Wednesday will be sunny and temps will be cold Monday, only reach the low 40's in the valleys; upper 20's above 5500'. Cataloochee Ski Area should be able to make snow as soon as Sunday afternoon and continue without interruption through at least Tuesday midday. Temps Tuesday and Wednesday warm to the upper 30's - mid 50's depending upon elevation; overnight lows in the 20's and 30's.
We'll stop here and circle back Sunday morning with a more detailed look at our snow chances. Happy New Year!