Shot of Snow Saturday; Rebound on Sunday
Here we go again, another round of snow and this may be our last shot this spring, minus a few 5000' + events that we can squeeze out in April. This go around will be a cold air chasing moisture setup, followed by a healthy NW flow event that will take most of the day Saturday to wind down. Even if you are left high and dry with no snow, the cold will be a shock to us all with temps struggling to break out of the 20's in the valleys, while the higher elevations above 4000' sit in the teens. Wind speeds out of the NW will push wind chill values below zero for most of the region; 10 - 25mph throughout the day, gusting to 50mph at times above 4500'. Temps bottom out to the single digits - mid teens Saturday night but will rebound to the 50's across the valleys by Sunday afternoon. Temps will continue to moderate Monday through the middle of next week, returning to the 70's by Wednesday (alongside increasing rain chances). Enjoy this short lived round of winter before the warmth returns, as the odds are increasing we'll see the 80's a few times before the month is out.
Snow totals will vary as they do during NW flow events, with the highest peak in the Smokies picking 6 - 10", tapering down to 3 - 5" across the highest peaks of the Unicoi Mtns, Cataloochee Divide and northern portion of the Great Balsams. The Alarka, Cowee, and Nantahala ranges will pickup 1 - 3" and populated areas like Maggie Valley into Waynesville stand a chance at picking up 0.5 - 2". Sylva, Dillsboro, Bryson City, Cullowhee, and Franklin will see a dusting and the best we can hope for is a band to break free and drop 1" as it passes overhead; highly isolated valley totals are possible. The further south you go the chance for NW flow snow decreases, but those along the Plateau who live at or above 4000' should see some wet snow on the backend of the front as it moves through before sunrise. After this the chance for snow showers drop significantly as we transition to NW flow by the early - mid morning hours. Lower Elevations 1800' - 3000' Prep for a blustery and cold day as we go from the 60's Friday to the upper 20's, likely peaking shortly before midday and slowly dropping to the low - mid teens by the pre dawn hours on Sunday. Token flakes and wind whipped flurries will fall most of the day and the best chance for accumulating snow occurs before midday, with a dusting likely for many valley locations. An inch is possible, but only for those who are lucky enough to be under a heavy snow shower as they break free from containment. All of this will be behind by Sunday afternoon as temps return to the 50's under sunny skies. Higher Elevations 3000 - 5000' Elevation is helpful but not the determining factor with this event. You need to be closer to the TN line to see higher totals. Balsam Gap will pick up an inch, whereas Soco Gap will pickup 2 - 3" solely based on proximity to the TN line. Temps will hold to the teens all day and wind chills flirt with -15°F most of the day, with high end gust around 40 - 50mph. Ridgelines + Plateau Not much to add to the above breakdown. If you happen to be above 6000' then you'll see rain quickly turn to snow before sunrise on Saturday, however it's likely the moisture escapes the region before the main cold arrives, with changeover taking till sunrise for elevations around 4000'. This means the Plateau could see some wet snow on the backend of the frontal passage, but not a lock.