FIRST ALERT: Winter weather and strong storms to break out on Christmas Eve

Wednesday evening weather forecast: 6pm

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - A First Alert is in effect for Thursday as a robust cold front drives disruptive weather into the WBTV viewing area hours before Christmas.

Wednesday is essentially “the calm before the storm.” High temperatures will reach the mid 50s as partly cloudy skies turn mostly cloudy during the latter half of the day. A few widely showers may roll in from the southwest overnight, but the bulk of the wet weather arrives early Thursday morning.

In terms of temperatures Christmas Eve will be warm by December standards as highs are set to top out in the upper 50s to mid 60s. However, the temperatures will take a backseat to the inclement weather.

So, here’s what you can expect Thursday:

  • Charlotte Metro & Piedmont: Light showers will develop Thursday morning ahead of heavier downpours and isolated thunderstorms. The strongest activity will hit the area between midday and the early evening hours. Damaging wind gusts and a tornado or two is not out of the question. Expect rainfall amounts between 1 to 2 inches.
  • Foothills: Thursday morning’s scattered showers turn to heavy downpours by mid-morning. A few isolated thunderstorms can’t be ruled, but the greater concern is the risk for isolated flash flooding as rainfall could exceed 2 inches where heavy rainbands linger especially along escarpment. The entrance of colder air after sunset by may cause any lingering moisture to fall as a wintry mix, but no frozen accumulation is expected.
  • Mountains: Gusty winds and widely scattered showers will move in late Wednesday night ahead mid-morning downpours that will last through mid-afternoon. Rain will change over to snow by sunset. Expect snowfall amounts between 1 to 4 inches with highest totals along the southern and western-facing slopes and ridgetops.
  • Avery County, NC along with several other NC/TN border counties now under Winter Storm Watch through Friday 6 a.m. Areas under the watch should anticipate snow accumulation in excess of 2 inches and wind gusts as up 40 mph Christmas Eve into Christmas morning

The wet and wintry weather will exit the region overnight Thursday into Friday. Christmas Day will be dry, but very cold. We’ll spend the better part of the day in the 30s with the hope of reaching a high temperature near 40° as clouds depart and sunshine returns. Once the sun goes down, temperatures will take a nose-dive with 20s expected across the Piedmont and Foothills and teens in the Mountains Friday night into Saturday morning.

Saturday’s highs will move into the mid 40s with low to mid 50s back in play by Sunday. Generous sunshine during the weekend will give way to an increase in clouds Sunday evening ahead of the arrival of our next rainmaker on Monday.

First Alert Meteorologist Jonathan Stacey

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