Good morning. No huge change to the forecast package this morning except for the upgrade of the Winter Storm Watch to a Winter Storm Warning across the Western Foothills and Eastern Slopes. Elsewhere the Winter Storm Watch remains in effect for Catawba, Cleveland, Lincoln, and Greater Rutherford Counties.
Finally some continuity between the near term models and the global models this morning, which increase the confidence of a very high impact winter storm across the area. Snow and sleet will likely be the predominate precipitation type along and north of I-40 and along the eastern slopes of the Blue Ridge. Out in the eastern and southern foothills from Catawba, Lincoln, Cleveland, and Rutherford the watch was held on to due to the onset of frozen precipitation starting later. That will need an upgrade to a warning today. In fact I think Catawba likely will switch see equal amounts to those in the Warning area currently but just know a Winter Storm Warning is coming for that area too.
Confidence in onset timing is increasing as well too. The rain could start with a very very brief light rain and then transition to sleet and snow in all areas for a time. Timing will be between 1pm Saturday and 8pm Saturday and we are leaning toward the early part of that timeframe. The warm nose starts to work North Sunday Morning into the afternoon and that could transition the snow and sleet over to freezing rain before ending. The most likely area of all to see that transition will be along that Hwy 74 area and into Lincoln County. Hopefully the cold air pool will be stronger and it will remain snow and sleet here as well. Some model guidance is suggesting that, we will see if that is a trend today.
No matter what type frozen precipitation falls it will be significant and power outages are likely. Going into the early week timeframe now we see that upper level low develop and move through. As it does so a couple of very heavy bands of snow would likely rotate through the area adding on a few extra inches. This trend and track of the upper low remain in question.
Going through the day today you will likely see some model projections indicating higher totals. The reason we have not adjusted back up to our original scale at this time is because of the sleet mixture that will likely occur. That sleet will compact snow totals down a bit. Measuring your snow hourly on an elevated flat level surface is the way you will want to measure to see how much accumulation you receive. What you will do is take a measurement on that flat level surface every hour and then dust the snow off after the measurement. The measurement needs to come from an open area where nothing obstructs the precipitation falling on it. Also helpful is for you to note any sleet you have and how long it fell for. We love data and the MPING App is very helpful when you send your reports in. Those overlay on our radar system and help us have a better understanding of what is going on at the surface. This forecast will be updated again this evening and the snowfall final call will be made at that time. Stay tuned.
Chief Meteorologist Chris White
Foothills Weather Network