Weekend winter storm system moving closer

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Now that our much-advertised weekend winter storm system is moving over southern California, the next few runs of our weather computer models will continue to give us more detailed data regarding who will see what and when this weekend and into Monday.

At this point, we feel very confident in the overall pattern, the cold air that will be present at the surface, the available moisture and the timing.

Nagging questions that still make this a difficult forecast, especially south of I-40, include the final track of the storm and whether there will be enough cold air aloft to promote snow for an extended duration (particularly in southern sections).

If the track is farther south by 50 mile, most everyone in the WBTV viewing area would likely see all snow.

If the track error is 50 miles to the north, warmer air would get pulled in (first aloft then at ground level) and that would result in much more of a mixed bag of precipitation versus snow.

We hope to be able to answer these questions over the next 24 hours, but even so, there’s enough confidence in this forecast now that we feel comfortable in putting out our preliminary snow accumulation map.

Please, don’t focus too critically on the exact numbers (especially the highest number), as there will likely be adjustments over time. That’s the inherent uncertainty of snow/ice forecasts.

Most of Saturday will simply be cloudy and cold with highs in the 30s to around 40°. But late Saturday into Sunday, it’ll be game time, with snow overspreading most of the area (rain in South Carolina).

At this point, it seems a certainty that the North Carolina mountains and northern foothills will experience a substantial accumulation of snow. Even with some sleet mixing in at times, 10-20" seems likely, and that could be on the low side for some neighborhoods.

The zone between I-85 and I-40 stands a decent chance at getting accumulating snow and sleet but depending on the exact track of this storm, freezing rain and even plain rain would probably mix in at times and accumulations here are tough to nail down at this point.

With that disclaimer, we now feel comfortable with a 3-6″ range north of I-85 and south of I-40 and 6-10″ near and just north of I-40.

As for Charlotte and points south of I-85, climatology is not on our side for a lot of snow, but based on what the models are suggesting at this juncture, we’ll forecast 1-3″ of snow and sleet with little accumulation expected in Chester, Lancaster, Chesterfield, Anson, and Richmond counties. As stated above, stay tuned and check back!

Copyright 2018 WBTV. All rights reserved.