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 and will drop into the lower 20s by early Wednesday. A gusty northwest wind today will make it feel as if temperatures are near freezing, despite bright sunshine.
More of the same is expected for the rest of the week, and North Carolina's ski resorts are taking advantage of the situation. They are making snow, in addition to the natural snow falling in the high country, and at least one resort -- Ski Beech -- plans to open for the season Saturday.
Schools were closed today in Avery, Madison, Mitchell and Yancey counties, and the Haywood County Schools opened on a two-hour delay. Police report 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 are snow-covered and slippery in areas above 3,500 feet.
At 8 a.m., light snow was falling in Boone and in West Jefferson. The wind chill temperature in West Jefferson -- the combined impact of temperature and wind -- was 3 degrees.
The snow is forecast to end later this morning, but ski slope operators will be able to make snow for several days, with temperatures forecast to remain in the 20s and 30s for most of the week.
"And there will be another system that brings some snow to the mountains again late Thursday," said Blair Holloway, of the National Weather Service office in Greer, S.C.
In the Charlotte area, snow isn't a problem, but cold air is.
After today's chilly readings, not much improvement is forecast for Wednesday, with highs again in the 40s. The normal high temperature for this time of year is 61 degrees. Holloway said temperatures will moderate Thursday, climbing into the upper 50s, but they'll 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 and lower 50s.
Some moderation is forecast for Sunday and Monday.