The coldest air so far this season spread into the Carolinas on Tuesday, and temperatures were forecast in the lower 20s for this morning.
Is this a sign of things to come this winter? Some forecasters think so.
Joe Bastardi, a noted long-range meteorologist with Pennsylvania-based AccuWeather, predicts this will be the coldest winter in several years across much of the East.
“It may be a shock to some, when compared with the above-average temperatures of last year in the East,” Bastardi said.
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Ray Russell, an Appalachian State University faculty member who is an expert on N.C. mountain weather, predicts more snow this winter than in recent years – but still less than the average. The average annual snowfall in Charlotte is 5.2 inches.
The Climate Prediction Center, run by the U.S. government, differs. Its meteorologists predict warmer-than-normal temperatures and dry conditions from December through February.
The season's first cold wave blew into the Carolinas this morning, accompanied by enough mountain snow to close schools in several counties.
Temperatures are not expected to climb above the mid 40s today in Charlotte
Schools were closed Tuesday in Avery, Madison, Mitchell and Yancey counties, and Haywood County Schools opened on a two-hour delay.
Police reported a number of weather-related wrecks this morning in the mountains.
State transportation officials say interstate highways are dry in most areas and wet in a few mountain locations.
But some state routes and secondary roads were snow-covered and slippery in areas above 3,500 feet.
After Tuesday's chilly readings, not much improvement is forecast for today, with highs again in the 40s. The normal high temperature for this time of year is 61 degrees.
Blair Holloway, a meteorologist from the National Weather Service in Greer, said temperatures will moderate Thursday, climbing into the upper 50s, but plummet again Friday and Saturday after a reinforcing shot of cold air moves into the region.
Highs on Friday and Saturday again will be in the 40s.