Skiff of Snow Thur PM; Blustery Friday
Good afternoon folks! I took some time off to recover from the backlog of work and time away from work on Monday (schools closed) and I come back two days later to another potential snow event. This go around the event will be much smaller and in typical NW flow style, favoring the TN line and nearby ridgelines that face northwest, including the northern portion of Haywood County (Fines Creek - Upper Crabtree). First off lets address the failed forecast for the Sunday night event. We knew it was going to be a tight margin for snow to develop below 3500', but I was hopeful for at least a slushy dusting or trace amount throughout the valleys, which ended up for the most part with nothing. It seems the accumulating snow line dropped down to 2800' for trace - dusting amounts, increasing to an inch around 3500', with several inches falling across the Plateau; all of Haywood Co reported 1" plus. The highest total was out of Swiss in northern Yancey County, 1/2 mile from the TN line at 4500', where 11.5" was reported! We highly recommend checking out Steve Yocom on Facebook or Instagram to see what it looked like from 5000' along the ridgeline, as he and others rode out the storm for those fleeting moments of beauty right as the storm ended.
Back to the forecast. We'll kick off the timeline Thursday at sunrise, with a stalled front laid out across the region, while a low pressure system develops to our southwest and begins to march north-northeast. At the same time upper level energy will approach the region, meeting the deepening low pressure system just before sunset, which is when we expect precip coverage to expand from isolated to scattered. Temps Thursday will climb to the mid 30's above 5000', while the valleys push into the mid - upper 40's under thickening cloud cover. Isolated showers (rain) is possible around 3 - 5pm, with sleet and snow trying to take over above 5500'. Temps will crash overnight and kick over rain to snow for all of SW NC, however this will be a cold chasing the moisture setup and one that never bodes well for our region. Most of the accumulating snow will come from NW flow snowfall that begins as the low pressure system pulls away, with accumulations ranging from 2 - 4" along the TN line in the Smokies to an inch or two for the northern portion of Haywood County. A dusting is likely in places like Balsam, Soco Gap, Cowee Gap, and looking further southwest, the Unicoi and Snowbird mountains should be able to squeeze out an inch or two, whereas the Plateau may only see wind whipped flurries. Temps Thursday night bottom out to the upper single digits above 5000', holding to the low - mid teens in the valleys, however NW winds around 20 - 30mph will bring wind chills down below zero at times.
Friday will be frigid with temps below normal for once as they struggle to climb past the low 20's above 5000', mid - upper 30's in the valleys. NW winds will stick around throughout the day with wind speeds around 10 - 20mph, so even though the sun will be out, bundle up and factor in the wind as you plan your day. Overnight lows settle into the low - upper teens Friday night under clear skies, possibly colder in the valleys compared to the ridgelines as a possible temperature inversion sets up across the area.
Saturday features sunny skies and the high pressure that arrived Friday will migrate east, ushering southerly flow later that night. Temps warm to the upper 30's - upper 40's depending upon elevation with a light northeast wind to start the day and southeasterly wind as we approach sunset. Clouds fill in Saturday night and temps hold to the mid 30's - low 40's depending upon elevation.
Sunday brings rainfall back to the region with coverage increasing as the morning moves along, continuing with scattered coverage from the late morning hours, through the night, ending late Monday morning. 1.5" is likely for most of SW NC, with high end totals around 3" for the Snowbird mountains as southwesterly flow becomes the dominate flow direction through the day. Temps warm to the low 40's - mid 50's depending upon elevation and once the front swings through early Monday morning, we'll see a return to colder weather with afternoon highs in the 30's above 5000', mid 40's in the valleys.
We'll stop here and circle back Friday late morning, reporting totals as they come in. Thank you to everyone who reported their totals and know they make it to the NWS, which is extremely helpful as we work toward our number one goal of filling the data gaps across SW NC. ENJOY!