First Alert: Freezing rain threatens High Country

WBTV Thursday morning forecast

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - A Winter Storm Watch is in effect for the North Carolina mountains and foothills through early Thursday afternoon. The threat of freezing rain and sleet is increasing. Ice accumulations may exceed ½” in some areas which would cause widespread power outages.

We are now fully into the last of four consecutive First Alert Days. The rain will be a heavy and steady through late morning, then beginning to taper off as we work into the afternoon. As this system pulls out of the area… drier and cool air will filter in. Rejoice, the weekend is looking wonderful, with plentiful sunshine and milder temperatures.

The mountains remain under a Winter Storm Warning until 1 PM this afternoon. The greatest threat is for freezing rain. Temperatures at the surface remain below the freezing mark… with overrunning rain and warmer temperatures aloft falling into the sub-freezing layer at the surface.

Accumulating ice of more than a quarter of an inch poses the greatest threat for downed trees, limbs and power lines. And while primary roadways have been treated… secondary roads and private drives will likely become slick and ice covered. Later tonight as this system pulls to North a brief period of snow will fall in the mountains.

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With the colder air expected there – upper 20s in the mountains, near 32° in the northern foothills - a set-up for sleet and freezing rain will develop – again, in the mountains - lingering into Thursday morning.

(Source: WBTV)

For everyone east of the mountains, all the way to Charlotte, sleet may be observed at times during the morning hours, however, temperatures are expected to remain above freezing – barely – which should allow any light sleet to melt and minimize any hazardous road conditions.

Even with the rain expected to taper down Thursday afternoon, it will remain cold all day long with highs maybe barely getting back 40°.

Keep checking back as the forecast is still subject to change!

Winter Storm Watch
Winter Storm Watch (Source: wbtv)

Here is a list of some of the areas that will be affected by the Winter Storm Watch:

  • Watauga  
  • Ashe  
  • Alleghany 
  • Avery  
  • Caldwell Mountains  
  • Greater Burke  
  • Yancey  
  • Polk Mountains  
  • Burke Mountains  
  • Buncombe  

As we head into the weekend… dry high pressure will build in. Overnight lows will be quite cold during the overnight hours, falling into the low thirties. The daylight hours will provide plenty of sunshine and temperatures will climb nicely into the lower sixties. And right now, it looks like we’re working into a dry period for the extended forecast into next week.

A Flash Flood Watch is out for the entire WBTV viewing area, which lines up well with our forecast of another 2 to 3 inches of rain before the rain tapers down Thursday afternoon.