‘Major winter storm’ could hit Triangle this weekend
A “major winter storm” is forecast to move through central North Carolina this weekend into Monday, which could mean snow, ice, heavy rain or all there, the National Weather Service said Thursday.
“A strong storm system will move across the Southeast U.S. this weekend, bringing a high likelihood of wintry precipitation and significant impacts to central NC,” the weather service said.
While meteorologists are calling for 12 inches of snow or more in the Charlotte area and farther west, forecasts are still too uncertain to say whether the Triangle will get rain, snow, ice or some combination.
The weather service issued a winter storm watch for much of Western North Carolina on Thursday and it extended into central North Carolina on Thursday evening.
Forecasters said the western half of the Triangle – including Orange and Durham counties – could see 4 to 8 inches of snow and ice.
“A developing winter storm will spread precipitation across central NC late Saturday and Saturday night with accumulating snow, sleet and freezing rain likely beginning early Sunday. While many details are unknown at this time, confidence has increased such that a Winter Storm Watch is appropriate” for areas including Winston-Salem, Greensboro, High Point, Burlington, the Research Triangle, Chapel Hill, Carrboro, Durham and more, the weather service said.
“Significant accumulations of snow combined with sleet and freezing rain is expected. Total snow accumulations of 4 to 8 inches combined with ice accumulations of up to one-tenth of an inch are possible. The greatest snow amounts are likely to be in the Triad, where amounts could approach 10 inches,” the weather service said.
While it’s hard to say how much, if any, snow or ice accumulation Raleigh and Eastern North Carolina will see, that doesn’t mean there won’t be problems.
Travel hazards are expected, especially on Sunday, and power outages are possible throughout the central part of the state as soggy soil, snow or ice accumulation and gusty winds reaching as high as 30 mph could cause downed trees or power lines.
“Travel is likely to be very difficult Sunday into Monday. Even in locations with lesser snow accumulations, the potential for accumulations of sleet and freezing rain will impact travel,” the weather service said.
As much as 2 inches of
‘‘ EVERYONE NEEDS TO BE READY FOR COLD TEMPERATURES, HAZARDOUS DRIVING CONDITIONS AND THE POSSIBILITY OF POWER OUTAGES. Gov. Roy Cooper
rain could fall in some areas, which could cause flooding, the weather service said.
The storm, which was moving over Louisiana on Thursday, was expected to track toward the Carolinas Saturday and Sunday, ABC11 meteorologist Don Schwenneker said.
Clouds will begin to
thicken across the Triangle ahead of the storm on Saturday and a wintery mix of rain, snow and sleet is expected to arrive late Saturday, continuing on Sunday and possibly into Monday.
“Travel could become slipper and treacherous across the Triangle,” Schwenneker said.
Gov. Roy Cooper on Thursday urged North Carolinians to follow the storm’s forecast closely.
“The forecast is still evolving, but we know that parts of the state are facing the potential for several inches of snow, and other forms of winter precipitation will also be a threat,” Cooper said in a news release.
“Everyone needs to be ready for cold temperatures, hazardous driving conditions and the possibility of power outages.”
State officials planned to open the State Emergency Operations Center on Sunday, according to the governor’s office.
Snow already fell in northwestern North Carolina earlier this week, so N.C. Department of Transportation crews were at work plowing highways and brining roads.
Crews were brining Interstate 40 in the Triangle on Thursday, though state officials asked people to limit travel during the storm.
Screen grab from the National Weather Service at RDU