Tuesday's Weather Could Create High Impact Travel For Evening Commute.
Good Saturday Evening. We hope your weekend is going well. This is our first High Impact Weather Outlook for Tuesday January 29th, 2019. Extremely cold temperatures will move in behind this frontal passage on Tuesday. The good news is this will only last a couple of days before temps warm back up to normal for late January. We are moving into the last month of Meteorological Winter in February. The next 45 days look to be well below normal overall.
Lets start with our key messages for our High Impact Weather Outlook.
A flash freeze is possible behind the precipitation for sure. This is where precipitation falls, wetting the roadways and elevated surfaces, then subfreezing air rushes in and freezes that moisture. There could be a mix of snow at the end of the event. Right now however it appears that most of the moisture will fall as rain outside the mountains. The best chance of seeing accumulating snow is in the mountains and East of I-77. In fact, some of our mountain locations could see a decent snowfall event. Moisture will be limited though, especially East of the mountains. The mountains tend to block a lot of moisture from making it over into the foothills.
Here is the fly in the ointment. There could be a weak low pressure develop on the East side of the mountains, in the Upstate, and then move North and East. That could do two things. That could mean a brief band of heavy snow on the Northwest side of the precipitation as it ends, possibly giving someone a couple of inches of snow. Right now don't get to excited for this in the western foothills. I think this low would develop as the back edge of the precipitation moves off the Eastern slopes of the Blue Ridge. That means a brief change over to snow as the precipitation lifts away. Maybe leading to a dusting in Greater Burke, Greater Caldwell, Greater McDowell, and Greater Rutherford. The better chances of any accumulation would be in Alexander, Catawba, Cleveland, and Lincoln Counties....if that lee side low develops. If it doesn't then even these locations will remain mostly rain with cold air rushing in and freezing everything by the evening commute. Either way decision makers for schedules should monitor this close and be ready to make arrangements to get everyone home before 4 or 5pm.
We know that a quick moving cold front will move through the area on Tuesday bringing with it limited moisture. The best dynamics will be on the Western Slopes of the Blue Ridge. Northwest sections of Burke, Caldwell, McDowell, and Rutherford will likely see all snow with this event. Outside of the mountains, we don't yet know exactly how much moisture is going to be left over once the front clears the mountains. If that lee side low develops that would increase the chance for at least Eastern Foothill Counties to receive some snow. Right now we think the rain will just briefly mix with snow on the back side before it moves away. We also don't know exactly how quick the Arctic air will move in. All models agree that it will move in quick enough to produce frozen roadway on Tuesday Evening but we just aren't sure if it gets in quick enough to produce some snow outside of the mountains. Stay tuned.
I see no reason to go any higher than social media talk right now for snow but we will likely bump up to prep the roads before the event because of the ice we think that develops as the cold air comes in.
As you can see in our forecast graphic for Tuesday we have highlighted a pink shading for a possible rain/snow mix before precipitation ends over our area. What is more remarkable is that areas even down to the Gulf Coast could see some wet snowflakes mix in with the rain. We will continue to watch and edit this. I may need to expand the snow over into Eastern North Carolina before all is said and done.
Overall right now we expect a low impact from snow but a high impact to travel on Tuesday due to leftover moisture on roadways freezing.