Temperatures are rebounding Wednesday afternoon after reaching their lowest levels in nearly a year for Charlotte, but forecasters say a round of frozen precipitation is possible for the area Friday.
Meteorologists are dealing with somewhat-contradictory data from the various computer models, in trying to decide what type of precipitation, and how much, will fall Friday afternoon and evening as a weak low pressure system crosses the region.
The best guess, forecasters said at mid-afternoon Wednesday, was a sleet-freezing rain mix is headed for Charlotte. But all that could change, and the amount of ice and sleet is highly questionable, they add.
This much is for sure -- the low temperature Wednesday morning in Charlotte, 19 degrees at Charlotte-Douglas International Airport, was the coldest for the city since an 18-degree reading last Feb. 12. Morning lows were a bit colder at some other local reporting stations.
For example, 18-degree lows were recorded at Albemarle, Lancaster (S.C.), Salisbury and Wadesboro.
By mid-afternoon Wednesday, temperatures had climbed into the low and middle 40s across the region. That is near the forecast high for today and Thursday, and while it is a few degrees milder than Tuesday, today’s afternoon readings are about 6 to 8 degrees below average for this time of year.
A weak low pressure system will pass north of the Carolinas tonight. Clouds from that system will hold morning lows to near 30 degrees in the Charlotte area.
Sunshine is expected to return Thursday, but clouds will begin streaming into the region late in the day. Those clouds will signal the advance of a weak low pressure system that will bring the inclement weather Friday.
James Oh, of the National Weather Service office in Greer, S.C., said the latest computer models are forecasting colder temperatures than earlier expected Friday. Meteorologists had predicted highs in the low 40s, but Oh says the latest estimates are that readings will not climb much above freezing in Charlotte.
“Highs on Friday will run near freezing across much of the region, which will lead to a widespread wintry mix event,” Oh said.
Precipitation is forecast to arrive sometime between 2 and 4 p.m. in Charlotte. Temperatures at the ground will be around freezing, or possibly a degree or two below freezing. But a nose of warm air will push into the region several thousand feet above the surface. That is a signal for sleet or freezing rain.
Several hours of light precipitation are forecast. Obviously, the big question is how much sleet or freezing rain will fall. For now, most meteorologists expect the levels to be light.
“But there is still a great deal of uncertainty with regard to the amount,” Oh said.
Friday’s weather will mark the low point. Gradual warming will begin Saturday, with sunshine and highs near 40. By Tuesday, meteorologists say, highs in Charlotte will reach the lower 60s.