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Submitted by Tim Buckley on Wed, 01/16/2013 - 11:20am.
WATCH AN IN-DEPTH WEATHER DISCUSSION WITH TIM FOR FULL DETAILS:
Here's what makes this such an interesting setup. We've been enjoying very warm weather for several days. During that time cold air has been gathering and gaining strength just to the west. Now -- when a storm system approaches, the warm air will be traded out for the very cold air. Naturally, the question becomes - will it get cold enough for it to snow before the precipitation stops?
Here's a look at our Futurecast model showing the storm in full force around midnight tomorrow:
Notice the rain overtaking much of the picture, but the narrow band of snow shown from the Triad toward the Triangle is the interesting part. This is where cold air will be flowing the freest, and that area will not be starting as warm to begin with. I do think it's possible, if not likely, that those parts of the state will see snow in the air and even some snow on the ground. Just how much is a tough question.
An old forecasting rule of thumb for Southeastern North Carolina is that for it to snow, "the cold air has to be here first" - meaning you rarely can shove cold air into a situation and change rain to snow. That's exactly what the models are trying to do with this storm. Not only is it warm out ahead of it, but temperatures early Thursday will be close to 70° with soil temperatures well into the 60°s. To me, this is just too tough of a task to get any snow to fall in the area.
Southeastern North Carolina -- Warm early Thursday, with rain beginning in the afternoon as temperatures start to fall. Temps fall into the mid/upper 30's after midnight with a cold rain ending by 3am. No snow expected.
Raleigh / Triad area -- Rain beginning during the day, but changing over to a wet snow towards darkness. Wet snow will have a tough time accumulating on the warm ground. Even so, a slushy accumulation of a few inches is possible -- with even as much as 2-4" possible in the hills toward the VA border.
Charlotte area -- Storm begins as rain, but changes over to wet snow for a few hours as it ends. Warm ground prevents much accumulation, but a slushy 1" or so can't be ruled out.
What fun we're having as we go back to winter! And as I mentioned yesterday, there's much more winter weather ahead as cold air really pumps in in full force next week.
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By: Tim Buckley