A winter storm is quickly approaching the Carolinas that could produce a highly damaging ice storm, as well as more than a foot of snow across the southern Appalachians.
The center of this storm system is expected to track near Charlotte overnight, allowing for warmer air from the Atlantic to override sub-freezing air near the surface. This combination of freezing temperatures at the surface and warmer air aloft sets the scene for widespread freezing rain and accumulating ice. Ice accretions could be as much as half an inch, which when combined with 30mph winds will produce widespread power outages and could render travel impossible.
A light mix of sleet and snow is expected to move into the region on Saturday night, with the main envelope of the precipitation transitioning to a mix of sleet and freezing rain after 3 AM and lasting through early Sunday evening. As temperatures warm up above freezing Sunday afternoon, the freezing rain will transition to plain rains – so be sure to keep an eye on the temperatures!
Winter Storm Warnings are in effect for all of North Carolina west of the I-95 corridor, including Charlotte. Across the Piedmont, expect ice accumulations on roads, trees, powerlines, and other elevated surfaces anywhere from a tenth to as much as a half-inch overnight. This will lead to extremely hazardous travel conditions with some possible road closures. Additionally, gusty winds of up to 30 mph over icy power lines will increase the likelihood of some power outages across the region.
Farther west, heavy snow accumulations of 6 to 12 inches is expected across the Carolina Foothills and Blue Ridge mountains – including Asheville. East of the I-95 corridor, enough frozen precipitation will be possible to make the roads slick, but the bulk of the precipitation will fall in the form of plain rain. Late Sunday, enough cold air will filter back in to allow temperatures to drop below freezing once again. There may be enough moisture in the atmosphere for light snow to fall, but significant accumulations are not expected. However, the cold air could allow for some refreezing of wet surfaces for the Monday morning commute.
— Anthony Torres