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December 6, 2013

Weekend winter storm could bring ice to the Triangle

This weekend's winter storm that is sweeping across the nation may include some freezing rain Sunday morning north and west of the Triangle if temperatures drop slightly below their forecast low of 34 degrees.

I hope you have the chance to enjoy the unseasonably mild temperatures today because tomorrow will bring a dramatic change in the weather.

The slow-moving frontal system that has brought snow and ice from the Northeast through the Midwest and back into Texas will finally arrive here this weekend.

Tonight's overnight low probably will be tomorrow's high temperature as well. The temps will drop during the morning, and the winds will shift from coming out of the south to coming from the north, ushering in the cold air.

By Sunday those winds will be from the northeast, and we will have the setup for a cold air “damming” situation, one that North Carolina residents are pretty familiar with because it happens regularly here in the winter. The winds from the northeast and east back the cold air and moisture up against the mountains in the western side of the state, socking us in with clouds and rain.

In addition, Saturday night into early Sunday morning, we could have a setup for freezing rain from the Triangle to the north and west. The temperatures in the layer of the atmosphere above the surface will be warm enough that the precipitation will be falling as rain through that layer. If our temperatures here at the surface get down to freezing, which is possible, that rain will freeze on contact.

The good news is that the forecast low for Raleigh (as of this writing) is just above freezing — about 34 degrees. However, just two degrees lower and we could have messy roads.

So, if you have plans early Sunday morning, please be aware that you may encounter icy patches, especially the farther north and west you travel from the Raleigh-Durham area.

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