February 19: Snow possible Thursday

Weather

Mother Nature just COULDN’T let me move to California without one more “could go either way” snow chance. So I’ll spend the next 36 hours thusly…

No snow out there this morning, just some lingering showers, mist and drizzle. That will gradually diminish by midday, with a few spotty showers still possible south of the Triangle this afternoon.

A winter weather advisory will be in effect in central North Carolina from 10 a.m. Thursday to 7 a.m. Friday. About 1 to 3 inches of snow is forecasted during that timeframe. The National Weather Service warns of slippery road conditions in the afternoon and evening on Thursday.

The HRRR model’s radar simulation from 9 a.m. through 9 p.m. shows those showers in our southern counties, while the rest of us get chance to dry out a bit.

Temperatures will hover around 50° for most of the day, then we’ll start cooling off this evening.

We’ll drop to the mid-30s by early Thursday morning, a little warmer farther south.

Temperatures will only warm up to around 40° in the Triangle by midday, then temperatures will cool off as the rain moves in…at least, it will be rain to start.

We’ve got all sorts of model data to look at, but this simulation from the European forecast model shows a reasonable scenario for tomorrow. Rain showers mixing with and changing over to snow showers by late afternoon, moving out by early Friday morning. This loop is from 7 a.m. Thursday through 7 a.m. Friday.

The exact placement of that “transition zone” between rain and snow is the hardest thing to predict, but of course it’s the most important factor in determining who sees what…and how much. Two other important factors: how much snow melts in the still-above-freezing air, and how much melts when it hits the relatively warm ground? The model data is ALL OVER THE PLACE when it comes to estimating the total snowfall — these are the numbers from various models for the Triangle.

It’s better to look at probabilities, rather than get hung up on specific numbers. The Weather Prediction Center estimates a 50%+ chance of at least 1″ of snow for the northern Coastal Plain, even getting close to the Triangle.

What about 2″+ of snow? Same pattern, but lower odds.

Let’s get really greedy — how about 4″ of snow??? Same pattern, even lower probabilities.

After looking at all of the model data, the WPC estimates, and the National Weather Service’s forecast (available here), this is my estimate of “who sees what.” I’ve included the most-likely scenario, along with my boom and bust estimates (maximum and minimum that are reasonable from this system).

Now, if you REALLY want to get crazy, this is the snowiest model available. I’ve added the text to discourage inappropriate social media fear-mongering.

The NWS has not issued a Winter Weather Advisory for any of our counties yet, but I anticipate them doing that later today. This isn’t going to be a record-setting storm, but it certainly could cause some headaches for the Thursday evening and Friday morning commutes.

Once this storm system is gone, the cold air makes itself right at home for a little while. Highs on Friday won’t even reach 40°, and we’ll drop to around 20° by early Saturday morning! The rest of the weekend will bring us a warming trend — warm enough for rain showers by Sunday night.

Rain Monday will give way to a little break Tuesday, then more rain moves in Wednesday. The long-range data is pointing to a longer break — along with some chilly temperatures — that would take us from the end of February into early March.

No time for the nerd-links this morning…too busy trying to figure out what this storm system will bring us. Stay tuned for updates!

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