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BUCKLEY'S BLOG: Iceman cometh? Ice potential across NC Friday

It's looking more likely that Friday could feature some icy conditions for parts of North Carolina, even parts of Southeastern North Carolina. Now let me be clear, this is not a snow-storm -- but cold air in place Friday may create a setup where freezing rain and mixed precip are a possibility away from the coast. Let's talk about the possibilities, but keep in mind these model maps I'm showing are not an official forecast. Got it? Good... Let's chat about what could happen.

The Wedge and the Why

Here's what's going on over the next few days. Right now, things are quiet with high pressure in control. Overnight tonight a cold front will move through and a new, cold high pressure area will move in. Think of the high pressure area acting like a big cold dome of air. That dome will be setup from the Northeast US all the way into Georgia early Friday morning. This type of weather setup is often referred to by meteorologists as a "wedge" of cold air. 

Keeping in mind that this wedge of cold air will be in place, a weak storm system to the west will start to head towards us early on Friday. Winds with this system are much warmer, but the wedge in place over us will prevent them from moving right on in. Since cold air is more dense than warm air, the warm air has no choice but to rise up above the cold - getting shoved up well above the surface. This creates a funky scenario where it's warmer way up in the sky than it is on the ground. 

This type of setup with cold air in place with warm air moving in can often times cause freezing rain to form. Remember, freezing rain falls from the sky as regular old rain, but since it is falling onto land that is <32° it freezes on contact - coating everything it touches with ice.

Heading into Friday, this wedge setup has the potential to create some icy conditions across a good portion of North Carolina with some freezing rain. Whether or not that will be the case in our corner of the state remains to be seen, but it needs to be watched carefully right now.

What will happen?

Right now the Friday forecast is a very tough call. The computer models we use to simulate the future weather have been bouncing back and forth on this for a few days, and don't seem to have a good handle on it just yet. 

From a purely meteorological setup, this system has the LOOK of an ice maker for North Carolina. Cold air in place at first, with warm air moving in over top is a textbook recipe to create icing conditions -- the question is where will those conditions exist, and for how long. 

Here's a forecast generated by one of the computer models we use:

This graphic shows as much as .25" of ice for portions of Robeson / Bladen / Sampson and Duplin counties, with a glaze of ice possible as far south as Pender County. This would be a significant event for the area with some tricky travel Friday night into early Saturday morning IF it were to verify.

Other models that we use to forecast have NOT shown ice accumulation this far south in the state and instead keep it confined to areas north and west. 

Here's what I'm comfortable with saying at this point:

  • The potential is there for a winter storm to affect North Carolina Friday and Friday night.
  • Snow does not appear to be likely with this setup due to the warm air overhead.
  • Freezing rain at least looks possible for our interior counties (Robeson / Bladen / Duplin); some icing could be a concern Friday night.
  • Rain is still the most likely outcome throughout the event along the coast.
  • Things could change greatly in the next 24-48 hours! These events can be fickle. 

Stay informed!

Make sure you keep it with us over the next few days as we sift through more data and refine the forecast. Remember that Facebook and Twitter are great sources for constant weather info. I try and keep my page fresh with updates throughout the day.

Go to and click "Like" to receive my updates. 

If you're on Twitter, follow me at @TimBuckleyWX

If you have any questions about this storm, or anything else - those are the best places to reach me. Thanks for reading; and stay warm!

- TB



By: Tim Buckley