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Saturday snow in mountains, possibly in foothills

A storm system expected to intensify somewhere over the Carolinas on Saturday could bring accumulating snow to parts of the mountains, and meteorologists aren’t ruling out a bit of snow in the foothills.

Snowflakes in the immediate Charlotte area are an extreme long shot, forecasters said, but the weekend will produce much colder temperatures.

A series of changes began Wednesday, when a cold front moved into the Carolinas.

“There is a chance of a few showers developing Friday evening along a second cold front, but it is a small chance,” said Larry Gabric, chief meteorologist at the National Weather Service’s office in Greer, S.C.

That second front will bring even colder weather for the weekend. And late Friday, a small low pressure system is forecast to move southeast across the Carolinas, crossing the Charlotte area and intensifying as it reaches the coast Saturday. That storm system, along with the much colder temperatures, will provide a recipe for an unusually early snowfall in the mountains.

Gabric said the area from Boone along the mountains to the area west of Asheville could get 1 or 2 inches of snow Saturday, mostly in areas above 3,500 feet. But the air will be cold enough, forecasters said, for snow to mix with rain showers in the foothills. That means places like Hickory, Statesville, Shelby and possibly even Lincolnton could see some snow mix with the rain.

“In Charlotte, it’s most likely to be rain,” Gabric said. “And the precipitation in the Piedmont will be light.”

The big story Saturday and Sunday will be the cold air. Temperatures are not likely to climb above the low 50s Saturday, and a stiff northwest breeze will make the first day of November feel even colder. After morning lows around 30 degrees Sunday, highs are only expected to hit the mid 50s.

Another cold morning is expected Monday before slow warming begins.

Long-range forecasters still expect November and December to include several warm periods before a more prolonged spell of cold weather arrives in January and February. Most meteorologists are predicting above-average snowfall and ice this winter in the Carolinas.

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