Observer weather correspondent Steve Lyttle took reader questions on Facebook this afternoon about the winter storm. Here are some of the questions.
Q: Having grown up in Wisconsin, I’ve never understood the use of brine, especially when the precipitation begins as rain, which would wash off the brine. What’s the theory behind using brine instead of simply spreading salt?
You’re right. Rain washes off the brine. I’ve talked to road crew superintendents, and their hope is enough brine is put down (and it doesn’t rain hard enough) to keep some brine working on the road.
Q: What is it looking for Ballantyne and South CLT? I see some models showing this area will get cold rain while the Euro gives us 9-10 of snow.
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The European and even the Global models show that 8-10 inches for Ballantyne. I’m watching the short-term HRRR (High Resolution Rapid Refresh) model that shows mostly sleet and rain in Ballantyne and Matthews – yet 6-plus inches in Cornelius and Davidson. For now, those 2-4 inch forecasts (with a lot of sleet) sound good.
Q: Mr. Lyttle, not sure if you know the specifics of this particular storm but my question is this: What are the chances the system moves northwest to the point that Charlotte only sees rain and a wintry mix? In other words, how likely is a bust at this point? Thanks!
This storm certainly has “bust” potential. The short-range computer models, which are usually pretty reliable, are honing in on a prediction of a couple inches of snow for central Charlotte, along with tons of awful sleet. For Pineville, Ballantyne and Matthews, the snowfall could be less. But a 25-mile jog to the south by the storm makes a huge difference. The storm’s center is still down in southern Louisiana, so we’ve got some time to fine-tun things.
Q: About how often does the “thunder in the winter, snow within 10 days” old wives tale come true?
I used to watch this for years, and it worked out about 10% of the time. But you know what? Tomorrow morning (3 a.m.) will mark 10 days since thunder.
Q: As of now, how much snow are you predicting for the Lake Norman/Huntersville area?
You’re a bit farther north of the rain-sleet-snow cutoff line. At this point, it looks like 5-7 inches up there. It could be a world of difference between Lake Norman and Lake Wylie.
Q: In the past, it seems like the biggest thing that kills accumulation around here is the precipitation turning to sleet. Do you expect the same thing from this storm and when will you know the definitive answer? Like if it starts as sleet, is it more likely to stay sleet? Where in NC do you expect the most accumulation at this point?
What could kill accumulation this time is rain and sleet at the beginning. The longer it sleets, the less snow, obviously. The snow jackpot will be just north of the cutoff line. Right now, some places in the bulls eye are Mooresville, Concord, Salisbury, Durham.
Q: Do you think the roads will be safe to drive to work in Charlotte on Monday?
It all depends on how much snow falls, vs. rain and sleet. The bottom line: Not a whole lot will melt Saturday or Sunday. So whatever’s on the ground at noon Saturday is likely to be there Monday morning, unless the road has been salted pretty heavily. We’re simply not sure how much will be on the road at noon Saturday.