At 8 a.m. Friday, here are five things to know about the winter storm that is expected to impact the Carolinas tonight and Saturday (and beyond):
1. Uncertainty reigns
While most computer models predict a pretty significant snowfall (4-8 inches in Charlotte, 6-10 inches in Raleigh), there is uncertainty. The North American Model (NAM), for instance, is predicting less snowfall – and more rain and sleet –for the Charlotte region. That will depend on the track of the storm, and it could be this afternoon before we see what will happen. That's last-minute, but that's also the way snowstorms behave in the Carolinas.
2. The timing
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Light rain will arrive around 1 or 2 p.m. this afternoon in Charlotte. There could be a few snowflakes or sleet pellets mixed in, but it should be rain until 5 or 6 p.m. By early evening, precipitation will be a mix of rain and sleet, and it is expected to change to snow by 9 or 10 p.m.
Snow will continue overnight, probably mixing at times with sleet to the south of Charlotte, before ending by 10 or 11 a.m. Saturday.
3. Brutal cold to follow
Regardless of what or how much falls, it will be brutally cold behind the storm system. Temperatures will fall into the low teens Sunday morning and below 10 degrees Monday morning. Afternoon highs Sunday and Monday might not reach freezing. It will be Tuesday before Charlotte gets into the mid 40s, and real melting begins.
4. Bad roads, dangerous sidewalks ...
With sleet and rain falling early, followed by snow and freezing, there likely will be a layer of ice under the snow. That will make roads dangerous – and difficult for road crews to clear. That's why crews are putting down brine (but the afternoon rain might wash away the brine). Sidewalks and driveways also will be dangerous for days.
5. How much will we get?
... The forecast is for 4-8 inches in Mecklenburg County, but the National Weather Service said bursts of heavier snow will develop somewhere in the region overnight. If you're in such an area, you could see several inches more.