Overnight snow and gusty winds have brought another blast of winter to North Carolina’s mountains, while Piedmont residents prepare for what could be the coldest night of the season so far.
And more snow is headed for the mountains this weekend.
A fast-moving Alberta clipper system swept across the mountains overnight, dumping between 1 and 3 inches of snow, even in the Asheville area. Strong northwest winds added to the problems, and it means a number of school systems are closed or opening on a delayed basis Friday.
Schools in Ashe, Avery and Watauga counties are closed. The Alleghany and Mitchell county systems opened late, as did Caldwell Community College’s branch in Watauga County, and Mayland Community College in the Avery County town of Newland.
Charlotte-area residents awakened to temperatures in the lower 40s, but those readings quickly fell, as cold high pressure took control. In fact, the temperature in Charlotte dropped from 42 degrees at 6 a.m. to 37 at 11 a.m.
Another sign of the very cold air mass taking control can be seen in the dew point temperatures, which fell from 26 at 6 a.m. in Charlotte to 5 degrees at 11 a.m. The very dry air will allow temperatures to fall tonight.
A northwest breeze is adding to the wintry effect, producing wind chill readings in the 20s.
At 11 a.m., winds were gusting to 37 mph at Boone, where gusts over 50 mph have been measured Friday morning. In the Piedmont, wind gusts included 29 mph in Charlotte and 28 mph in Albemarle. Shelby and a number of other nearby stations have measured gusts near 35 mph since daybreak.
Jake Wimberley, of the National Weather Service office in Greer, S.C., said he expects winds to diminish during the day, as the high pressure system takes control.
Under clear skies and calm conditions, temperatures are forecast to tumble into the upper teens by Saturday morning. The forecast low in Charlotte is 18 degrees, and the coldest so far this year was 19 degrees, on Jan. 23.
Some recovery is expected Saturday, with temperatures climbing back into the middle 40s in Charlotte.
However, clouds will be on the increase as the next clipper system approaches. This time, the weak low pressure system is expected to swing a bit farther south, which could bring precipitation -- possibly even in the form of snow flurries -- to the foothills and parts of the Piedmont.
“We can’t rule out some sprinkles or flurries over the Piedmont on Saturday afternoon,” said Rodney Hinson, of the National Weather Service office in Greer, S.C.
Hinson added, “It is a different story for the mountains.”
There, snow is expected to accumulate several inches from Saturday afternoon into Sunday morning.
In the Charlotte area, Sunday is forecast to be a better day, with at least partly sunny skies and highs in the lower 50s. Fair weather is predicted for the rest of next week, with daily highs in the low to mid 50s.
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