North Carolina

Winter storm looks likely for parts of NC this weekend. Here’s what we know so far.

7 tips every Southerner should know before driving in ice or snow

With the potential of winter weather in the Lowcountry this week, here are some tips for driving on icy or snow-covered roads.
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With the potential of winter weather in the Lowcountry this week, here are some tips for driving on icy or snow-covered roads.

Western North Carolina and as far east as the Triad could see snow and ice this weekend as the forecast for what could be the area’s first winter storm takes shape, according to forecasters with the National Weather Service.

A separate weather system is expected to bring one to three inches of snow to the Boone area Wednesday, according to WNCN, with a winter weather advisory in effect and schools closed for Watauga, Avery and Ashe counties. But another blast of winter weather is on the way for the weekend, the station reports, and the impacts will be more widespread.

There’s a lot of uncertainty still in the forecast for the weekend, WSOC reports, but forecasters predict snow for the mountains and either snow or a wintry mix farther south. The storm will likely move into North Carolina Saturday and stick around overnight and through Sunday.

The National Weather Service issued a hazardous weather outlook for most of western and central North Carolina and the South Carolina Upstate.

The NWS said Wednesday morning: “A strong coastal low pressure system will likely bring periods of moderate to heavy rain and wintry precipitation to the area this weekend, possibly continuing into early next week. Snow and ice accumulations are most likely across the mountains, foothills and northwest Piedmont of North Carolina, but possible elsewhere, especially along and north of I-85.”

In an update Wednesday evening, the weather service said “a strong storm system” was expected to cross the Southeast Saturday into Monday.

“Wintry precipitation is likely over northwest portions of central North Carolina, particularly over the northwest Piedmont, late Saturday through Monday. The best chance of wintry precipitation and some accumulation will be early Sunday morning through late Sunday afternoon, and again on Monday,” the weather service in Raleigh said.

The chance for snow and ice decreases the further east the system moves. Forecasters said in a tweet Tuesday, “The best chance for snow/ice is across the Triad, with chances decreasing farther south and east.”

As of Wednesday evening, the forecast for Charlotte shows snow and sleet moving into the area overnight Saturday and then a wintry mix through the day Sunday continuing through Monday night, according to the National Weather Service.

In Winston-Salem, the Weather Service forecasts, Saturday will be rainy but the precipitation could start turning into snow Saturday night. The NWS predicts snow will continue in the area through Sunday evening before turning back into freezing rain and sleet.

In Columbia, the weather service said “widespread rain is expected and there is the potential for some wintry precipitation over the northern and central Midlands.”

On the North Carolina coast, “a significant coastal storm” is expected to bring “strong winds, heavy rain” and possible flooding and beach erosion, the weather service in Newport/Morehead City said Wednesday.

It could all turn back into snow and freezing rain before sunrise Monday, according to the NWS, making for a very messy commute.

On Tuesday, National Weather Service warning coordination meteorologist Nick Petro said in a briefing that there are two potential scenarios for the winter storm moving across the continental United States — one that could bring snow or a wintry mix to central North Carolina this weekend and another that could bring heavy rain.

It all depends on the track the storm takes, Petro said.

Another small, less consequential system could bring a few flakes to central North Carolina on Wednesday, Petro said, and the weather service in Raleigh tweeted Wednesday afternoon that some had been spotted.

“We have been receiving some reports of flurries and a rain/snow mix across the area. Let us know what you are seeing out there!” the weather service tweeted.

But any flakes before the weekend “won’t amount to anything,” Petro said.

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Charles Duncan covers what’s happening right now across North and South Carolina, from breaking news to fun or interesting stories from across the region. He holds degrees from N.C. State University and Duke and lives two blocks from the ocean in Myrtle Beach.
News & Observer reporter Abbie Bennett is a charter member of the McClatchy Carolinas real-time team. She is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s School of Journalism and has won awards for her investigative, politics and breaking news reporting.