Sleet falls in Charlotte, but it’s the mountains and foothills facing freezing rain

Icy weather in the forecast for parts of NC

Check out the ABC11 weather forecast for the Triangle.
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Check out the ABC11 weather forecast for the Triangle.

Sleet was falling in the Charlotte area Tuesday as the National Weather Service forecast freezing rain for western North Carolina’s mountains and foothills.

No accumulation was expected in Charlotte, which is expected to remain above freezing.

Forecasters believe the wintry mix headed into the state will stop just west of Mecklenburg County and Charlotte, with brief periods of freezing rain expected in nearby Iredell, Catawba, Rowan, Cleveland and Lincoln counties.

Freezing rain will fall in the mountains and the foothills from around 6 p.m. Tuesday through 4 p.m. Wednesday, and will include 35 mph gusts and ice accumulations of up to a quarter of an inch, says the NWS. Two inches of snow is expected in the mountains.

“Expect power outages and hazardous travel conditions overnight tonight and Wednesday morning, especially in the northern mountains,” said a National Weather Service tweet.

“The precipitation may begin as a mix of sleet and freezing rain late Tuesday before transitioning over to all freezing rain the rest of Tuesday night through Wednesday morning...Accumulating ice (is) likely through at least midday, especially along and north of Interstate 40.”

The chance of rain is 60 to 80 percent in the western half of the state Tuesday night through Saturday, says the NWS.

In the Charlotte region, rain will start to fall around after 3 p.m. Tuesday, but lows will remain above freezing all week, forecasters say.

More than an inch and a half of rain could fall in the Charlotte area Tuesday through Sunday, while areas in the southwestern mountains could see four to nearly five inches, says the National Weather Service. Flooding in the mountains will remain a threat through Sunday.

“Rain will pick up and spread east across the WBTV viewing area by late day and won’t let up through the night, lasting into the day on Wednesday,” WBTV meteorologists Al Conklin is predicting.

“I’m forecasting a low of 33 degree for Charlotte, just above the freezing mark so what’s expected south of I-85 is for the most part, just rain. North of Charlotte, the forecast is not so cut and dry. The air will be colder and so a wintry mix is expected. Up to 2 inches of snow is forecast in the mountains before a transition over to sleet and freezing rain takes place later tonight.”

Mark Price has been a reporter for The Charlotte Observer since 1991, covering beats including schools, crime, immigration, the LGBTQ issues, homelessness and nonprofits. He graduated from the University of Memphis with majors in journalism and art history, and a minor in geology.