Ice, freezing rain could make driving ‘treacherous’ in the Charlotte area, NWS warns

Ice and freezing rain could make driving “treacherous” in the Charlotte area, North Carolina mountains and elsewhere across the state late Saturday and early Sunday, the National Weather Service warned.

York, Chester and Lancaster counties are under a winter weather advisory for late Saturday night through Sunday afternoon from the National Weather Service. Freezing rain with some ice accumulation is possible, forecasters said. National Weather Service

The Charlotte region and upstate South Carolina are under a winter weather advisory that started at 1 p.m. Saturday and will be in effect until 7 p.m. Sunday, with a “heavy wintry mix and significant ice expected,” according to the NWS advisory issued at 4 a.m. Saturday. “Total ice accumulations of a trace to around two-tenths of an inch expected.”

The NWS forecast for the Charlotte metro area eased a bit Saturday afternoon, with freezing rain no longer in the mix early Sunday and only a slight chance of sleet late Saturday afternoon.

Catawba, Iredell and Lincoln counties and most of the North Carolina mountains are under a more severe winter storm warning, with total snow and sleet accumulations of up to 2 inches and ice accumulations of one-tenth to four-tenths of an inch expected there.

Lincolnton, for instance, could see 0.2 to 0.4 of an inch of ice overnight and less than another 0.1 of an inch on Sunday, NWS forecasters said.

Greensboro, Winston-Salem and Mount Airy also fall under the warning, with possible outages due to the ice, according to the NWS office in Raleigh.

Durham, Asheboro, Albemarle and Henderson are under the winter weather advisory, while Raleigh will likely see only rain into early Sunday and has only a 30 percent chance of some freezing rain late Sunday-early Monday, according to the NWS office in Raleigh.

Blame a low pressure weather system that’s moving from the Mississippi River Valley to the southern Appalachians Saturday night, according to the NWS office in Greer, S.C.

The messy stuff had been expected to arrive at Charlotte’s airport between 2 and 3 p.m. Saturday, when a “slight chance” of sleet was forecast. That forecast changed at 3:52 p.m., however, with no further sleeted expected overnight.

January Winter Storm
A South Carolina Department of Transportation truck spreads a salt brine on the bridges along S.C. 22. on Tuesday. A winter storm watch will be in effect 6 a.m. Wednesday to 6 a.m. Thursday as a wintry mix is expected to blanket Horry, Georgetown counties, and surrounding areas. Jan. 2, 2018. JASON LEE jlee@thesunnews.com

The storm system should turn to all rain Saturday night and persist throughout the day, with between a tenth and quarter of an inch of rain possible, according to the NWS forecast.

Earlier Saturday, sleet was anticipated returning before 10 p.m. Sunday, although the chance was slight, forecasters said. By late Saturday afternoon, sleet was no longer in the forecast for any time Sunday.

The sun is expected to emerge on Tuesday.

While Saturday’s high in Charlotte could reach 42 degrees, the high could dip to 39 degrees Sunday and 40 degrees Monday.

The low is expected to remain at 33 degrees early Sunday and early Monday and 32 early Tuesday, according to the NWS.

The high should rebound to the seasonal average of 50 degrees Tuesday before warming even more to 54 Wednesday.

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Joe Marusak has been a reporter for The Charlotte Observer since 1989 covering the people, municipalities and major news events of the region, and was a news bureau editor for the paper. He currently reports on breaking news.