The Triangle could get three inches of snow from the weekend storm tonight, before temperatures climb close to 70 later this week.
A cold blast from the northwest is expected to mix with a low pressure system, turning rain to sleet and then snow tonight, said Lara Pagano, a staff meteorologist for the service's Raleigh office. A winter storm warning is in effect from Wake County to the north and west.
Some sleet and snow have begun falling in parts of Durham, Chatham and Orange counties. Wake County schools will open on a two-hour delay Monday.
Wind gusts could hit 20 mph as the colder air arrives.
Dara Demi, a spokeswoman for the N.C. Department of Transportation, said road crews will be brought in today to possibly sand roads or plow if snowfalls are significant. She said the expected rain, however, makes it difficult to pretreat roads with salt brine.
The storm could bring the Triangle's second significant snowfall of the season. On Jan. 20, a winter storm dropped up to 6 inches on the Triangle.
The National Weather Service expects the Triangle to get about 1.5 inches of total liquid precipitation from the entire storm, which should help to improve the area's water situation.
According to NCdrought.org, the area is considered "abnormally dry," about 3 inches below normal. That means the region is in danger of moving into a drought and people should take steps to conserve water.
Temperatures Monday will rise to just above freezing and are expected to drop to 15 Monday night. Tuesday night the temperatures will likely dip to 20 degrees.
RDU officials are advising passengers to check out their flights before leaving for the airport on Monday.
But relief is in sight. By Friday, the high should be close to 70.
Snow in North Carolina in early March isn't common, but it does happen. More than 9 inches of snow fell in Triangle on March 1, 1969. A storm that started on March 1, 1980, dropped at least 6 inches of snow over most of the state and more than a foot eastward from Interstate 95.