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First Alert Friday: Snow likely but for who and how much?

Updated: Jan. 5, 2021 at 6:42 AM EST
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - A First Alert is effect for Friday as the next big weather maker brings heavy rain and snow to the WBTV viewing area. The First Alert Weather Team continues to monitor the latest model data which is providing us with a clearer picture of how this event will affect you and your family.

The robust storm system will track through the Southeast and bring precipitation to the region Thursday evening through Friday. If enough cold air can move into Carolinas by early Friday, the system which is also supported by an upper-level low could a big winter weather event across the Carolinas.

Keep in mind, all the information you’ll see here and elsewhere is subject to change over the next three days. So, prepare and plan accordingly, but check back every few hours for updates on the area’s certified most accurate forecast.

So, let’s answer a few FAQs.

What is the likelihood of getting accumulating snow where I live or work? It depends on your location. Most neighborhoods will start out with rain, but that rain will change over to snow in the mountains and north of the I-40 corridor and possibly a mix of rain and snow along and between the I-40 and I-85 corridor east of the mountains, with mainly rain south and east of the I-85 corridor.

Probability of Winter Weather
Probability of Winter Weather(WBTV (Custom credit) | WBTV)

If I get snow in my area, how much should I expect? Significant snow accumulations will be possible in the mountains, with light accumulations possible across the Foothills and northwest Piedmont of North Carolina.

GFS snowfall
GFS snowfall(WBTV (Custom credit) | WBTV)
EURO Snowfall
EURO Snowfall(WBTV (Custom credit) | WBTV)

What is the snow and rain expected to arrive where I live or work? Precipitation will start moving in Thursday afternoon or early evening, peaking overnight, then tapering off during the day Friday.

- First Alert Meteorologist Jonathan Stacey

Snow is likely Friday but for who and how much? That’s the big unanswered question as we start the quest this week toward Friday and the arrival of a potential winter storm for a larger portion of our viewing area.

We cover 22 counties from the northern mountains along the Virginia state line to Pageland and Cheraw, SC. Normally when we mention snow in our forecast we’re talking about the three or four mountain counties in this area of responsibility.

It’s only when snow starts falling east of the mountains that the forecast takes on a whole new meaning for a much larger group of people. And Friday has that potential as the weather pieces may fall into place this time as just enough cold air may be in place as a storm system rolls across South Carolina to our south and an upper level system arrives along with it providing additional support.

So let’s dig into the data, and I will show you exactly what the weather models are calculating at this point. Keep in mind, I won’t stake my reputation on any of these solutions just yet as we are very early in the game, and we will wait for the short range models to weigh in around Wednesday which are much higher resolution models and generally have a better track record for that reason. Here we go:

Picture:

  • This shows the snowfall map from the European model. Again, because of the lower resolution, these maps tend to look mushier and can tend to overestimate the accumulations. But nonetheless, this is still a map that has our attention. And as said, if it wasn’t plausible, I wouldn’t waste your time showing it to you.
Snowfall accumulation
Snowfall accumulation(WBTV (Custom credit) | WBTV)
  • This shows the simulated radar map at 7am on Friday morning with the snow breaking out across the mountains and foothills expanding closer to Charlotte with rain still falling east and south of Charlotte.
Simulated radar map
Simulated radar map(WBTV (Custom credit) | WBTV)
  • This is the GFS snow forecast for Boone – about 2.5″
This is the GFS snow forecast  for Boone
This is the GFS snow forecast for Boone(WBTV (Custom credit) | WBTV)
  • This is the Euro snow forecast for Boone – about 4″ (notice this point forecast is indeed lower than the mushier map)
This is the Euro snow forecast  for Boone
This is the Euro snow forecast for Boone(WBTV (Custom credit) | WBTV)
  • This is the GFS snow forecast for Hickory – about 1.7″
This is the GFS snow forecast  for Hickory – about 1.7″
This is the GFS snow forecast for Hickory – about 1.7″(WBTV (Custom credit) | WBTV)
  • This is the Euro snow forecast for Hickory – about 3.2″
This is the Euro snow forecast  for Hickory – about 3.2″
This is the Euro snow forecast for Hickory – about 3.2″(WBTV (Custom credit) | WBTV)
  • This is the GFS snow forecast for Charlotte – about an inch or so
This is the GFS snow forecast  for Charlotte – about an inch or so
This is the GFS snow forecast for Charlotte – about an inch or so(WBTV (Custom credit) | WBTV)
  • This is the Euro snow forecast for Charlotte – about an inch or so
This is the Euro snow forecast  for Charlotte – about an inch or so
This is the Euro snow forecast for Charlotte – about an inch or so(WBTV (Custom credit) | WBTV)
  • This is the Seven Day First Alert Forecast – Note we may never hit freezing Friday morning, but even under those conditions you can still get a quick inch of snow on decks, railings and grassy surfaces before it starts to melt.
This is the Seven Day First  Alert Forecast
This is the Seven Day First Alert Forecast(WBTV (Custom credit) | WBTV)

For now, these two models are in fairly good agreement, especially considering we are five days out from the storm. That provides additional confidence that this storm system has a better chance to verify these numbers.

Keep it here and we’ll keep you updated especially if or when things change!

Click here for the latest weather forecast. Click here to download the WBTV Weather App and get alerts for First Alert weather forecasts in your area.

- Meteorologist Eric Thomas

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