FIRST ALERT: A Winter Storm Watch is now in effect

FIRST ALERT: A Winter Storm Watch is now in effect

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - A WINTER STORM WATCH now posted for the Southern Piedmont - all counties south of I-40, including Char-Meck - for Friday night and Saturday morning.

In terms of the outbreak of snow expected Friday night and Saturday, the latest data continues to fluctuate appreciably with respect to final snowfall accumulations.  But what it is not doing is suggesting we might miss the snow.  The biggest remaining question is the over/under which we're setting at 3" now.  Will the snow amounts remain below 3", or could they go higher?

The answer remains elusive and, as always, it will depend on where you live, and on the final track - and footprint - of the storm's center.  The highest odds at this junction would point to lighter snow amounts northwest of Charlotte, and heavier amounts southeast of Charlotte.  This is due to the storm's southerly track over north Florida Friday night and then offshore Saturday morning.

That's why there are currently no watches, warnings or advisories out for the foothills / I-40 corridor.  It is much less certain as to how much snow will actually fall there, but it stands to reason there will be less than communities further south and east – closer to what we believe will be the eventual track.

The outset of the precipitation Friday evening may indeed be rain, shifting to wet snow later Friday night and eventually a powdery snow by Saturday morning as colder air continues to seep in.  Sleet and freezing rain do not appear to be a significant component in this weather system for the WBTV viewing area.

So, at this early point, still two days in advance, our highest confidence puts areas northwest of Charlotte across the Catawba Valley and Foothills in a 1" - 2" range right now.  If you live closer to Charlotte and in our eastern and southeastern sections, 2" – 4"+ is our best estimate at this time.

Keep in mind, this is still subject to change and it is entirely possible amounts could be higher.  We continue to work hard on getting a better handle on this system (which honestly hasn't even developed yet!) so stick with us for frequent updates.

Beyond Saturday's snow, everyone will need to be prepared for an Arctic blast of cold air that will keep our readings – both by day and at night – well below the early January averages of 50° / 30°.

There is a high likelihood of icy conditions on any untreated surface – including roads – both Sunday and Monday mornings, as lows are expected to be in the teens – maybe even single digits in some neighborhoods.

- Meteorologist Al Conklin

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