A significant amount of snow is predicted to fall in Charlotte this weekend, starting during rush hour Friday and continuing into early Saturday afternoon, according to the National Weather Service.
The official forecast calls for 5.3 inches of snow in Charlotte, NWS meteorologist John Tomko said Thursday.
A winter storm warning issued by the weather service on Thursday afternoon said snowfall in the region could range from 4 to 6 inches, while the latest NWS range for Charlotte indicates that up to 8 inches might fall.
Charlotte snowfall amounts could range from 3 to 5 inches Friday night and early Saturday and an additional 1 to 3 inches later Saturday morning, according to the weather service’s 5 p.m. Thursday forecast.
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However, the forecast could change as the storm moves closer, so check charlotteobserver.com for updates.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools canceled all after-school and evening events for Friday and all athletic activities and community events in schools for Saturday and Sunday. CMS plans to operate on a normal school-day schedule Friday.
The city of Charlotte urged everyone to stay off roads beginning Friday evening, if possible. “The snow, combined with the frigid temperatures, will make travel treacherous,” city officials said in a statement.
American and other airlines announced they would waive re-ticketing fees for passengers flying out of Charlotte and other cities in the Southeast.
The National Weather Service expects snow to begin falling in Charlotte about 5 p.m. Friday and continue through 1 p.m. Saturday. That forecast is preliminary, however.
Although snow is expected to begin falling around rush hour, pavement temperatures will likely prevent accumulation for several hours, Charlotte officials said. Motorists, if they must be on the road, should slow down and use extreme caution, officials urged.
The NWS warning says heavy snowfall will make many roads impassable and could produce widespread outages due to the weight of the snow on tree limbs and power lines. The warning is in effect from 7 p.m. Friday until 1 p.m. Saturday.
The chance of snow in Charlotte stands at 90 percent Friday night and early Saturday. Precipitation is expected to start Friday afternoon as rain and change to snow in the evening.
Temperatures are forecast to plummet to 27 degrees early Saturday, with wind gusts as high as 20 mph. Saturday could reach only 31 degrees.
The snow will likely continue until 10 a.m. Saturday, according to the weather service.
Saturday night will be mostly clear, but the low could be 14 degrees, assuring that whatever started to melt will refreeze on roads causing black ice.
Sunday’s high is expected to reach only 33 degrees under all sunshine. Similar conditions are expected on Monday. That could prevent snow from melting, especially on secondary roads, for several days. In addition, low temperatures in single digits Monday morning could be a risk to unprotected water pipes.
The Charlotte Department of Transportation’s Street Maintenance Division has been treating streets in anticipation of the snow and ice. Crews are focusing on bridges and culverts on city streets, and hospital entrances.
N.C. Department of Transportation crews also prepared to treat the region’s roads, bridges and overpasses beginning Thursday morning. NCDOT staff in Division 10, which includes Anson, Cabarrus, Mecklenburg, Stanly and Union counties, intended to place brine on the division’s major highways. That included Interstate-77, I-85, I-485 and U.S. 74, along with other high-volume highways.
Crews also were at work in Alexander, Catawba, Cleveland, Gaston, Iredell and Lincoln counties, placing brine on the division’s primary and “bare pavement” routes. That included interstates, N.C. and U.S. routes and other highly traveled roads.
The Charlotte Area Transit System anticipates operating a regular schedule for buses and LYNX trains. CATS will watch weather reports to determine if and when the CityLynx Gold Line will operate.
Some weekend events have already been rescheduled, including the Charlotte Museum of History’s Twelfth Night event to Feb. 11.
Correspondent Steve Lyttle contributed.
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