Sleet/Snow to Rain to Snow on Wednesday
Good afternoon folks! It's a damp, blustery day outside and light snow is falling in the usual NW flow locations, with a few inches possible above 5500' as we transition fully into NW flow today and tonight. All snowfall will end later tonight and set the stage for a sunny Tuesday with temps near normal. High pressure begins to migrate into the Northeast Tuesday and low pressure systems begin to develop out of the gulf, with precip slated to arrive during the pre dawn hours on Wednesday. As with most cold air damming (CAD) events, SW NC is typically left out of the picture due to the Great Balsams and Southern Highlands Plateau (escarpment) blocking northeasterly winds from fully scouring out any in place warmer temps; most notable in our deepest valleys. All of this is to say Wednesday will be mixed bag for SW NC, with light snow/sleet possibly starting out the day, quickly turning back over to a cold rain as the warm nose surges into the region and likely turning back over to snow for the higher elevations later in the day as NW flow takes back control. This also means we will likely miss out on the worst form of wintry precip, freezing rain, with our best chance for freezing rain directly along or nearby the escarpment; Highlands, Lake Toxaway, and Brevard are not out of the woods just yet. Past all of this mess we will find another round of NW flow snow Thursday morning for the TN line, while high clouds and periods of sunshine make up the forecast for the remainder of the region. We'll enjoy fair and sunny weather Friday and Saturday, with a possible second regionwide event Sunday.
Sunny skies Tuesday will make up for temps in the upper 30's - low 50's depending upon elevation and overnight lows should be able to sneak into the upper 20's - mid 30's before cloud cover builds sometime during the evening hours.
Light precip will break out across the escarpment during the pre dawn hours and slowly expand across the region during the morning hours, falling as a snow/sleet mix at first and then transitioning to a cold rain by the mid - late morning hours depending upon location. Freezing rain is likely for those who live along the SC state line or just up into the plateau, but we are not certain it will make it as far as Highlands or Cashiers, but perhaps towns just on the edge like Lake Toxaway, Pisgah Forest, Rosman, and Brevard will be impacted. As the day moves along the low pressure system will quickly exit the region, turning overall flow out of the northwest by the afternoon hours. This will usher colder air back into the region, turning rain over to snow from the top down, but as this occurs precip coverage begins to decline. This will translate to a high elevation snow event above 4500' - 5000' after midday on Wednesday, with snow levels dropping down to the valleys by the evening hours and at the same time snowfall will scale back to the TN line. NW flow snow along the TN line and nearby ridgelines will occur throughout the night with light - moderate intensities at best and its possible coverage blossoms early Thursday, but everything should be over and done by the early afternoon hours on Thursday. All told, rainfall totals will average out to a half inch for all of SW NC (higher amounts closer to the GA line) and snowfall totals could range anywhere from 1 - 4" above 5000' (higher the further NW your location is; maybe nothing at all for 5000' sites closer to the GA line). Lastly, temps Wednesday will be downright chilly with highs in the mid 30's above 5000', warming up to the low 40's for the valleys and dropping to the mid 20's - low 30's overnight into Thursday.
Even with periods of sun poking through high clouds on Thursday temps will only make it to the low 30's - low 40's depending upon elevation, making for another blustery day. We warm up to the low 50's on Friday under ample sunshine, a touch cooler on Saturday (upper 40's) but sunny skies will continue, and we are eying a late weekend precip event on Sunday.
We'll stop here and circle back on Wednesday morning. Because this will be a high elevation wintry event for most of us, we will not post a SNOWCAST map, but we do caution everyone to check your local news sources Wednesday morning to make sure travel is not impacted by the initial round of wintry precip.