Models are slowly coming into agreement regarding an area of low pressure that is expected to bring a mix bag of snow, sleet, freezing rain, and cold rain to the Carolinas this weekend and early next week.
The track of the storm system is becoming more certain as models continue to converge on a single track. The EURO, GFS, and Ensembles agree with the overall track of the storm, bringing the storm along the Gulf of Mexico coast then up the East coast. By Monday morning, the storm is expected to be located over the Outer Banks of North Carolina. It is too early for exact timing, but precipitation could begin as early as Saturday morning in far western NC. Most areas would begin seeing precipitation Saturday Night or Sunday morning.
The amount of moisture this system is expected to have is above average for a winter storm. Most models show 1-2 inches of precipitation, with some locations receiving over 2 inches of precipitation. This storm system has the potential to be one of the largest winter storms we have seen this decade in western NC.
This system will be very difficult to forecast because there will be a sharp line where the snow/sleet/freezing rain changes to a cold rain. Since we are still 72+ hours away, it is too early to determine where this line would be; however, current indications are the line will set up near I-85. There is also questions with the temperature not only at the surface but aloft. If the temperature aloft warms above freezing, snow could change to sleet and freezing rain, limiting accumulations.
The image below shows what I expect at the moment across the Carolinas. This is subject to change moving forward, depending on the final track of the storm.
Areas in Red need to prepare for a major winter storm. All major global models and climatology agree this area could receive major accumulations of snow and sleet. It is unknown how much snow/sleet will fall in this area at the moment; however, these areas need to be prepared for major accumulations of snow and sleet. The area shaded in red is where the highest confidence of wintry weather is at the moment.
Areas in Yellow also need to prepare for a major winter storm; however, there may be issues with the temperature aloft and at the surface. This area is expected to hover around 32, so these areas are in risk of changing to a cold rain or staying a wintry mix. This area also needs to prepare for accumulations of snow and sleet. Confidence is lower in this sector than in areas shaded in red.
Areas in Blue are also expected to see wintry weather; however, this area is dealing with temperatures that aloft are expected to warm above freezing and surface temperatures may rise above 32. While this area should prepare as well, there is very high uncertainty with this area.
Areas in Green are expected to remain mostly rain for the duration of the system. This area may see snow on the front side and the back side of the storm; however, rain is expected to be the dominate precipitation type.
I am continuing to monitor the latest data that continues to come in with this system and will keep you updated with the latest model trends.