Thursday & Friday: Other than chilly conditions (blustery conditions in Western NC) with some patchy black ice and frozen puddles on roads in the northern Upstate, this morning got off to a good start. A High Wind Warning is set to expire just after lunch for portions of Western NC. Henderson, Buncombe, Madison, northern McDowell, Yancey and Mitchell counties will deal with high winds for a time this morning.
The good news is a sunny sky will make conditions feel more comfortable than what we felt yesterday. Highs will range from 49°-53° in the Upstate/NE Georgia today with upper 30s in the high elevations of the NC mountains and 40s in the lower, valley towns.
Saturday Rain - Western NC Mix/Rain: A weak system develops late Friday to our south and cruises in from the lower Mississippi Valley. There will be some chilly air around here once clouds settle in, but not too much sub-freezing air, except for a few locations in the high NC mountains. The Upstate will see all rain from this system as the mid-level and low-level cold layers are neither cold enough nor thick enough for frozen precipitation. Even in Western NC, mid-level and low-level cold layers look marginal at best, but the NC elevation factor always heightens frozen precipitation potential. Based off many forecast model projections I have seen for several days now, critical 5000ft temperatures and thicknesses barely support some snow and mostly support rain or with the possibility of a little freezing rain or sleet on the front end of the system. That's not to say these temperatures could trend slightly colder, but could also trend warmer if a stronger system pulls warm air ahead of it.
There's still an opportunity for complications with snowfall, freezing rain or sleet in Western NC, but this system looks more like a rain-producer for many towns within our area, including towns in Western NC.
One thing that will need to be watched is a colder trend with this system on forecast models as we move into tonight and Friday. The potential for wintry precipitation/snow does seem favorable given the track of the center of the system to our south and east. Also, the amount of precipitation may also be in question since this system looks fairly weak as it tracks to our south. I doubt precipitation will be scarce (or under-perform model projections) Saturday though, based on the last three systems which have over-produced in terms of rain totals for our area within the last three weeks. We'll keep you posted with updates.
More certain is what happens after this system moves slightly east of us and wraps in cold air on its western side. High elevation NC snow streamers could be quite heavy for a time Saturday night, but especially into Sunday morning.