Feet of Snow for the Smokies Mon - Tues!!!
Good morning folks! The rain is winding down across the region and isolated showers are possible the rest of the day under passing clouds, with temps reaching the upper 30's - low 50's in SW flow. As we move into the evening hours we transition to a NW flow overnight and moisture levels coupled with sub freezing temps aloft will come together to produce NW flow snow across the area. The models continue to trend upward with this event and confidence is increasing that this will be our strongest NW flow snowfall of the season. Places typically left out during NW flow snows will get in on the action, however this does not translate to a regionwide event as the southernmost areas like Highlands, Cashiers, Lake Toxaway and so on will struggle with rates strong enough for accumulating snow. On the flip side, the Smokies will pick up 1.5 - 2.5' of snow, that's right, feet of snow, while the nearby ridgelines collect 5 - 8" or more of snow through Tuesday morning. Impressive snow totals aside, Monday and Tuesday will be frigid with high temps only reaching the low 20's - upper 30's across the region, alongside westerly winds around 10 - 25mph depending upon elevation; sub zero wind chills Monday night above 4000'. Sunshine will break out past midday on Tuesday for the majority of the region and we'll enjoy a calm day on Wednesday under more sunshine with temps a touch warmer as they hit the mid 30's - mid 40's depending upon elevation. Clouds build on Thursday ahead of our next rain and snow maker, which looks to arrive sometime Friday. Beyond Friday confidence among the modeling drops off a cliff and we'll not discuss anything past Thursday till our next discussion on Tuesday to allow the models more time to come together in agreement.
We'll wake up on Monday with snow falling across the region; flurries and the occasional light snow for the southernmost portions of Macon and Jackson counties, while locations along or nearby the TN line experience scattered, moderate - heavy snow showers. Monday morning into the early afternoon hours looks to be the peak window for snowfall across SW NC as the overall flow is a touch more northerly than true northwesterly, coupled with ideal moisture levels rising into the higher levels of the atmosphere. At the surface we expect accumulations to begin late tonight for the highest elevations, with an inch or two by sunrise for locations above 5000'. The SNOWCAST Map does a better job at showing which location will see accumulating snowfall and how much, but for the most part, if you live closer to the TN line your chance for accumulations increase.
In particular, the setup should also favor northern Haywood County, with Fines Creek, Iron Duff, and the Crabtree area picking up 3 - 4" by late Tuesday morning, with by 2 - 3" possible for Waynesville, Bethel, and Cruso. Shifting back toward Jackson - Macon - Swain counties, an inch or two two is possible for Bryson City, Sylva/Dillsboro, and most of Cherokee, while Franklin struggles slightly with downsloping/shadow effect, limiting accumulations to an inch. Another area that should do well is the Snowbird Mountains and the nearby Cherohala Skyway where 6 - 10" may fall before its all said and done. All of this being said, please remember that with any NW flow snowfall there will be winners and losers, with one spot picking up several inches and only a quarter - half mile down the road only a dusting. Such is the nature of NW flow snow, especially when the setup is strong and the chance increases for snow to break containment from the TN line.
Snowfall aside, temps Monday will only make it to the low 20's above 4500', while the valleys warm to the mid - upper 30's. NW winds around 10 - 20mph across the lower elevations will make for a cold day, but speeds increase to 20 - 35mph above 4500' and as temps dip into the low - upper teens overnight into Tuesday, sub zero wind chill values are likely above 4000'. Snow scales back and winds down as we move into the pre dawn hours on Tuesday, with flurries continuing well into the mid morning hours for most of the region.
Sunshine eventually takes over Tuesday, first for the southern portion of SW NC and temps will warm a degree or two over Monday, climbing to the mid 20's - upper 30's across the area. NW winds will continue throughout the day around 10 - 20mph but calm down as we near sunset, with light winds overnight into Wednesday under clear skies; mid teens - low 20's depending upon elevation.
Wednesday maintains sunny skies overhead and temps warm even further to the mid 30's - upper 40's depending upon elevation, peaking on Thursday as they hit the upper 30's - low 50's, even as clouds build across the region. Regionwide rain and snow is slated for Friday but the wintry portion is not set in stone so for now we are not hyping any snow possibility and focusing on the upcoming NW flow snow Monday into Tuesday.
Check back in on Tuesday morning for a detailed look at the Friday event and possible cold snap next weekend. If needed, we will do a quick update tomorrow late morning.