FIRST ALERT: Winter Weather Advisory in place as black ice creat - | WBTV Charlotte

FIRST ALERT: Winter Weather Advisory in place as black ice creates hazardous road conditions

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The WBTV First Alert Weather Center is updating the potentially dangerous weather. Check for updates on WBTV.com and in the WBTV Weather App (iPhone Android).

Meteorologist Al Conklin, Monday 4 a.m.

  • Winter Weather Advisory for Black Ice
  • Lows in Single Digits and Teens
  • Warm-Up Later This Week

We have another VERY cold night ahead. Lows will fall to the single digits for many of us outside of Charlotte. If the temperatures themselves aren't enough, icy roads and patches of black ice will also be an issue. That's an issue through the morning commute and perhaps even a little bit beyond, or at least until we get back up above freezing later on.

Afternoon readings will only reach the low to mid 30s again, despite plenty of sun. That will allow for more melting. 

Tuesday begins a warming trend - a BIG one! We will be in the 40s on Tuesday, then 50s on Wednesday, warming further into the 60s on Thursday and Friday. If you have several inches of snow on the ground right now, by the middle to end of the week, you will be able to see grass again!

Be safe and stay warm!

Meteorologist Leigh Brock, Sunday 10 p.m.

The weekend winter storm has come and gone. Now we turn our attention to… temperatures in the 60s?

Yep! That’s about the size of it!

Some people love snow. Others don’t want to deal with it. Here’s one of the top reasons to live in the Carolinas! Everyone gets their way – sometimes in the same week!

Last weekend, we were in the 50s. We climbed each day and hit 60 by Wednesday. We fell to the 40s the next two days and we all know what the weekend brought. We had winter weather and bitterly cold temperatures. There were even some overnight lows in the single digits. Highs were close to freezing.

Now, we jump into a new week and temperatures will climb again. We’ll only be 2° above freezing for a high on Monday… 40s on Tuesday… 50s Wednesday… and 60s through the weekend. Winter weather one weekend and 60s the next! If you like the weather – soak it up. If you don’t, just give it a few days!

Enjoy at least of the 3 seasons this week

Meteorologist Leigh Brock, Saturday 9 p.m.

With temperatures back below freezing, expect icy patches for the rest of the night and into the first half of Sunday. Anything that melted during the day and was still liquid when the sun went down (at 5:27 p.m.) has likely refrozen.

Some roadways are frozen solid. Others have been re-treated and aren’t frozen at all. Which are you driving on? There’s no way to tell. That’s the danger of black ice.

The entire WBTV viewing area in North Carolina plus York County in South Carolina is under a Winter Weather Advisory for black ice until noon on Sunday. Be safe if you’re heading out. Allow extra stopping distance and maybe even take some extra clothing or blankets – just in case of an emergency.

Take it easy out there!

Meteorologist Leigh Brock, Saturday 5:30 p.m.

The winter precipitation has almost left the state of North Carolina alone so we now turn our attention to the next big story. A Winter Weather Advisory is in effect for all of our NC counties and York Co in SC until noon on Sunday, even though we should be completely clear and dry tonight. 

It’s our old favorite – black ice. (PS: does anyone else feel like kids in NC and SC have more black ice days than actual snow days?) We’re not talking about missing school since tomorrow is a Sunday but the effect is the same. Roads will be slippery tonight because even though highs just barely made it above freezing, we had sun. 

When the sun hits the black pavement, it warms it up. Not a lot – but enough to get the pavement above freezing and that’s all it takes to start the melting. The problem is that just as soon as the sun starts to go down and we fall back below freezing, that’s when the freezing starts. I would be extra careful when you’re traveling from the time the sun goes down (about 5:27 in Charlotte) and until midday tomorrow. Remember, black ice isn’t something you can see and prepare for. That’s why it’s dangerous!

The next problem is the temperature itself. Overnight, we will fall to the single digits to low teens. That’s COLD! Our average low is 29°. Add to that, a wind speed of 5-10 mph and it will feel like the single digits to negative numbers at times. 

You may look at the watch/warning map and wonder why only parts of the WBTV viewing area have wind chill advisories. That’s simply because our area is governed by three different National Weather Service offices. They don’t always collaborate. (How many of us aren’t guilty of the same thing from time to time?) 

Anyway, what you should take from this is that EVERYONE will feel very cold tonight and tomorrow morning. It won’t get much warmer during the day. The projected high for Sunday is the freezing mark. Then we’re back to the same single digits to low teens for Monday morning. 

Be safe out there!

Meteorologist Lyndsay Tapases, Saturday 10:15 a.m.

Our winter storm is throwing out its final attempt at dropping some snow for the areas that haven't seen any yet. We told you a few hours ago that this could still happen, as the Arctic air finally caught up to the last bit of moisture this storm has left to offer. So, this is good news for those of you who woke up to only wet or icy conditions, as it appears this final burst will have at least a little bit of a punch with it and could drop a quick inch or so for some lucky areas.

This final burst may last as late as 11 a.m. or noon, so we still have an hour or two window left to squeeze some small accumulations out of this for those spots who have yet to see any. 

Meteorologist Lyndsay Tapases, Saturday 5:30 a.m.

As we head into the early morning Saturday hours, the forecast has behaved itself for most areas with one main exception... the greater Charlotte metro.

The rain/snow line has hugged a little bit farther north than earlier anticipated, which has led to more ice mixing in from the Charlotte area south. Beginning yesterday evening we began to adjust the forecast in this direction, especially from South Meck Southeast through the rest of our SC counties, which were starting to look like warm air would mean more rain/ice as opposed to snow for these areas which would greatly cut down on totals. We warned that there would be a very sharp cut-off over a span of as little as 10 or 20 miles and a slight jog in either direction of that rain/snow line would have big implications on totals, which is what has happened for the Charlotte metro. 

So bottom line- Northwest of I-85 the forecast has worked out quite well.

Totals are ranging from 3-6" from Morganton to Huntersville to Lenoir to Valdese. Southeast of Char/Meck, it has also worked out for the most part... with the Alert from last evening of more rain/ice than snow appearing to hold true. So again, it has really been for the most part that in-between area which encompasses the greater metro where more ice than anticipated has taken us through the late night hours.

Here is the good news for snow lovers: our models continue to indicate that the Arctic air up aloft will continue its slow punch south, so that the rain/snow line should continue to drop south through the rest of the morning. For Charlotte, indications are that around 6 a.m. or so more snow should be mixing in. The question will be, how much moisture will be left by this point, aka, how much snow will we squeeze out? I would say from now on the low end may be an inch, on the high end possibly up to 3". So there is still the expectation at this point that this will end as a burst of snow for Charlotte before the storm pulls away around 9 or 10 a.m.

Meteorologist Leigh Brock, Friday 10:45 p.m.

As colder air works in through the night, most of us should continue to see a change-over to snow. 

The mountains and foothills will see all snow. We are still sticking with totals of 4-6” for you. The farther south you go, the more warm air we have to deal with. It still looks like Mecklenburg County will be the dividing line between the “haves” and “have nots”. The northern part of the county could also get the 4-6”. The southern part of the county might see closer to 2-4”. In South Carolina, you will likely get less – 2” or less of slush. 

As far as the timeline is concerned, the best chance for snow will be late tonight and into Saturday morning. It should taper off and be out of here by lunch time. If you have Saturday morning plans, I would think twice about going ahead with them. Even if you just have the slushy inch or two, it could still cause tricky travel. 

The next issue will be the cold weather. Temperatures on Saturday will be close to freezing all day. Anything that falls by tomorrow morning isn’t likely to go anywhere any time soon. With lows in the teens on Sunday morning and the single digits on Monday morning, black ice will certainly be a concern. Plus, just the temperatures themselves will be an issue. 

Stay safe out there!

Meteorologist Leigh Brock, Friday 9:15 p.m.

The break is just about over. 

We had a lull in the precipitation but it is starting to build back in from the southwest. Snow has been reported across parts of Burke, Caldwell, Lincoln and Catawba Counties. Most of our foothill and mountain counties are checking in below the freezing mark at the surface, but everywhere south of that we’re having trouble dropping below freezing.

That’s why rain has been the main precipitation type. 

Another factor is the temperature above the surface. There is a little area of warmer above the earth’s surface (and by that, I mean above 32°). That could also limit our snow potential. 

Did you know that if a snowflake melts, it can never be a snowflake again? It can refreeze as sleet or freezing rain – but there’s no going back to being a snowflake. 

Meteorologist Leigh Brock, Friday 7:30 p.m.

We had our first wave of precipitation move through and now we are in a bit of a lull. The rain is fairly light for most of Mecklenburg County, south into South Carolina and east into Union, Richmond and Anson County. There are a few light flurries in some of our foothills counties. As we anticipated, the heaviest precipitation is to the southeast of the WBTV viewing area and closest to the coastal storm.

Things should still pick up later this evening and into the day on Saturday. It still looks like the heaviest snow will be late tonight and tomorrow morning. It looks like a good bet that mainly snow will fall the farther northeast you go.

The mountains and foothills will see just about all snow. However, since you are simply farther from the storm, your snow totals should be around 2-4”. As you get closer to Charlotte, things get trickier. There should be a sharp dividing line between healthy snow totals and lower totals made up of a slushy mix.

As more warm air works in, we could very easily see a difference of a few inches between the northern and southern part of Mecklenburg County. It all depends on how far north that warmer air makes it. It’s possible that the northern part of the county could see 4-6” and the southern part could see 2-4”.

Our South Carolina counties will likely see less than 2” of mainly slush.

Stay tuned! We’ll keep you updated!

Meteorologist Lyndsay Tapases, Friday 3:15 p.m.

We have two big changes to tell you about to our snow totals forecast. The first, and perhaps most significant, will be for areas Southeast of Charlotte. All of our model data is now shifting the heavier snowbelt footprint to the Northwest, with a very sharp cutoff from South Mecklenberg and points Southeast.

This is due to most of the liquid for these areas coming down as plain rain, and not changing over to snow until later on tomorrow morning, which would significantly reduce totals. However, for the greater Charlotte metro, right now our forecast remains largely unchanged, as it still appears the band of heavier snow will line up more or less along I-85 through the city. But, as we always caution, just a minor shift of as little as 25 miles in either direction of that sharp cut-off/transition zone could mean significant impacts.

The second change is to the mountain region. With the snow footprint now reaching farther North and West, our mountain counties now stand to see a little more than it previously looked like.. but probably still not quite as much as the I-85 corridor. So, putting all of that new information together, our new snow totals forecast will be:

  • Mountains/Foothills: 2-4"
  • I-85 corridor, including CLT metro: 4-6"
  • South Meck/transition zone: 2-4"
  • SC state line/south: Less than 2" 

Timing also appears to be running an hour or two ahead of schedule, but it still appears the Friday evening rush will be free of any flakes (outside of the mountains at least). Early evening rain may mix with sleet at times as a gradual transition to snow begins overnight, and may be as early as 9 or 10pm for some areas. So, don't be caught off guard if you were planning on trying to venture out for any Friday night festivities prior to midnight. Speaking of midnight, no one should be on the roads from then on through the overnight hours, as the snow will be in full swing until about daybreak Saturday morning. 

Meteorologist Al Conklin, Friday 10:30 a.m.

From the WBTV First Alert Weather Center we’re monitoring the very latest data pouring in regarding the pending winter storm.  In football terms, this is “game day”, but we’re still several hours away from “kick-off”.

The way I see the rest of today unfolding is mostly cloudy and cold, but fairly uneventful…at least during the daylight hours.  Readings will hold in the 20s all day long in the mountains, where occasional snow will fall (but should not add up to more than an inch).  For the rest of the WBTV viewing area, east of the mountains, we’ll likely stew around in the upper 30s to lower 40s with a little spotty rain.  The rain may tend to pick up a bit by late afternoon, and so there’s concern that the late afternoon commute home could be wet….but not white.  If the rain comes down heavy enough, readings will likely fall into the 30s area-wide and a little sleet could even mix in in a few spots.

As for tonight, the set-up remains the same. Low pressure will cut across north Florida and then ride up the east coast overnight and Saturday, all the while as colder air is drawn in from the northwest.  And so, rain will likely mix with and change to snow as we progress through the evening, with most every location in the viewing in the snow during the pre-dawn hours Saturday.

There are still – even at this late juncture – discrepancies in the model suite we look at, but we feel most confident that a general range of 2 to 6 inches is most likely across the Piedmont / Charlotte metro area (see attached map).  There is more than likely going to be a few spots that receive more snow than is being forecast, as even in January, the atmosphere can get (relatively) unstable, just like it does in the summer, prompting thunderstorms.  A scientific guess would be somewhere south / east of I-85 “might” get more than the 6 inches we’ve predicted down that way, but until the storm bands line up and “show themselves” that’s a forecast that can’t be pinpointed.

Also, it is important to note, there will likewise most likely be a very sharp gradient south / east of I-85, where heavy snow accumulates in a band and locations perhaps 25 miles south / east get very little accumulating snow.

Beyond the storm, we’re still very certain we will all be stuck in a deep freeze Saturday through Monday, with highs in the 30s - despite ample sunshine – and nighttime lows in the teens and single digits.

For that reason, WBTV Meteorologists have declared Sunday and Monday as FIRST ALERT DAYS, as icy conditions are likely to be present anywhere melted snow freezes for the morning hours.  Black ice will be a very real issue both Sunday and Monday mornings, so there are bound to be disruptions to the normal work and school pattern as a result.

 Stayed tuned to WBTV and www.wbtv.com for frequent storm updates!

Meteorologist Chris Larson, Friday 7:00 a.m.

As of 7 a.m. Friday, the entire WBTV viewing area is now in the Winter Storm Warning area, meaning there is the potential for heavy snow from late Friday night into late Saturday morning.

The Winter Storm Warning will remain in effect from 7 p.m. tonight through 1 p.m. Saturday.

THE AFTERMATH

For this blog, I thought I would concentrate on the aftermath of our forecasted winter storm. Across the WBTV viewing area we are forecasting a range of 2 inches (West) up to 6 inches (East). After the snow, the story becomes the bitterly cold temperatures. Overnight lows will drop into the teens and single digits Sunday and Monday morning. This means the snow will not be quick to melt. In fact, a fresh blanket of snow has very high Albedo.  That means most of the sunlight that hits the snow is reflected away.  This limits the amount of effective heating. 

A cold upper-level trough will also continue to draw colder air in across the Carolinas. So you combine fresh snow and cold air advection and you have the recipe for some very cold temperatures.  

So here are our forecast highs and lows after the storm.
Sat -  33
Sun - 12/33
Mon - 9/35

So you get the idea… the forecasted 4 to 6 inches of snow for Saturday morning isn’t going to melt very quickly. And remember road crews will concentrate on main interstates, highways and arterial roadways first. So secondary roads and neighborhood streets may be snow covered and slick for several days after the snow comes to an end. 

We will very carefully be watching the latest model runs throughout the day on Friday. At this point we are looking for anything that points towards the path of low pressure deviating significantly from its current forecast path. But as of 7 a.m. Friday morning confidence is very high that we will be hit with a measurable snow storm tonight.  

We’ll continue to keep you updated from the First Alert Weather Center… giving you best information for you to make the decisions to keep you and your family safe.

Meteorologist Chris Larson, Friday 6:00 a.m.

Good morning I’m meteorologist Chris Larson with our 6 a.m. Friday blog update. We will keep you updated throughout this winter storm.

As of 6 a.m. Friday, the entire WBTV viewing area is now in the Winter Storm Warning area, meaning there is the potential for heavy snow from late Friday night into late Saturday morning.

The Winter Storm Warning will remain is in effect from 7 p.m. tonight through 1 p.m. Saturday.

Here’s the scenario… a surface area of low pressure is now forming just off the coast of New Orleans and will track across the deep south over the next 24-hours. In the upper atmosphere, a relatively deep cold air trough sits across the eastern US. 1. Cold air in place… and continuing to pull into the viewing area. (CAA Cold Air Advection). 2. Additional moisture being pulled from the low moving out of the gulf.

These two will collide tonight into the Saturday morning. And there you have our Winter Storm scenario. This is a pretty classic set-up for a significant snowfall event for the Charlotte area. It’s also a set-up that will like give us heavier snowfall in the piedmont, than what the NC Mountains will achieve out of this system.

SNOWFALL AMOUNTS:

These are the current forecast amounts that we feel comfortable with. And we will continue to monitor to the latest model runs, as we continue to better nail down a path this area of low pressure will take as it progresses into our area.

Mountains: 1-2 inches of snow are likely. This includes Watauga, Ashe and Avery counties. Roads will likely be slick Saturday morning.

Foothills: 2-3 inches of snow are likely. Again roads are likely to be snow covered and slick overnight and early Saturday morning.

Piedmont: 2-4 inches west of Charlotte, 4-6 inches Charlotte and areas east.

Again snow will likely be heaviest during the overnight hours and just after sunrise on Saturday morning.

CAVEATS:

The confidence in the forecast is high right now. The only real thing to watch is the path the low takes coming out of the gulf. A track taking the low farther south and east would limit the snowfall amounts here in the Charlotte area. But this is increasingly looking like an unlikely scenario. Regardless, we will be impacted by a snow event tonight and Saturday morning.

Chief Meteorologist Eric Thomas, Thursday 10:45 p.m.

Warmer air has appeared... so what could it mean?

It certainly means I’m not pushing the snow forecast accumulations any higher. There are some signs now that warmer air may delay the changeover from rain to snow to later into the overnight hours Friday and predawn Saturday.  If that should happen, along with a slower transition with an icy mix, this could tamp down the final snowfall accumulations from some of the higher estimates you’ve been hearing.  

For now I am holding the forecast to 2” – 4” of snow in the greater Charlotte area.  See the attached picture for the rest of the region.  We have one more day on Friday to fine tune this forecast further if necessary.  So check back here, on WBTV News, and the WBTV weather app.  Just search for WBTV from your app store.

Either way you slice it, Saturday morning will be a difficult, if not hazardous period for travel.  Make your plans accordingly to avoid this potentially dangerous period.

Meteorologist Lyndsay Tapases, Thursday 6:00 p.m.

Now that we are closer to the onset of precipitation, roughly 24 hours or so, the winter storm watch has been upgraded to a winter storm warning.

Remember, the watch vs. warning is just a function of time. A watch is issued first to give an early heads up, and then the warning as the beginning of the event approaches, so this is just standard procedure.

The Warning will go into effect at 7pm Friday and last until 1pm Saturday. At this time there are no changes to our snowfall forecast outlined below. 

Meteorologist Chris Larson, Thursday 1:30 p.m.

A significant winter storm will affect the Charlotte region as we head into the weekend. Much of the WBTV viewing area is now under a Winter Storm Watch. This is for a period of time starting Friday evening and extending until Saturday at 1 pm.

Late Thursday morning the National Weather Service did expand the Winter Storm Watch area to include more areas west of Charlotte including Shelby, Hickory, and Statesville.

PREVIOUS WEATHER BLOG: A Winter Storm Watch is now in effect

Model consensus continues to point at an area of low pressure forming over the Gulf of Mexico on Friday. This low will then migrate across the Carolinas Friday evening into Saturday morning.  This gulf moisture will meet Friday night with cold air across the Carolinas commencing a snow event through the night and early into Saturday morning. 

There may be a brief period of rain before precipitation turns to snow late Friday night.

Very cold high pressure will build behind this exiting system. Cold air moving in combined with a fresh blanket of snow on the ground will make for bitterly cold temperatures overnight into Sunday morning. The forecast low for Charlotte is 14 for Sunday morning.

Forecast Snow Amounts

Here’s what we’re thinking as of Thursday afternoon.  And Eric and Lyndsay will update this when the latest model runs come in later today. For the Charlotte area, a solid 2 to 4 inches of snow is now in the cards. For areas just to the east of Charlotte like Monroe, Albemarle and Wadesboro we'll up the estimate to 4 to 6 inches. Going west into the foothills lesser amounts of 1 to 2 inches.

ARCHIVE PHOTOS: Snow, ice hit Charlotte in January 2016

The forecast model output will be telling Friday as the gulf low begins to form.  This will allow us to fine tune the path of the low… and update for forecasted snow amounts.  Regardless, we have high confidence now that snow will impact the Charlotte Metro area early Saturday morning.

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