Snow and the occasional wintry mix are still possible in the Triangle over the next few days, but the question remains where.
Any precipitation Thursday night is expected to be mostly liquid, but some could come as “nuisance sleet” like the area saw Wednesday evening, according to a Thursday morning update from the National Weather Service Raleigh office.
“A few flakes may mix with the rain around daybreak (Friday) on the (western) edge of the precipitation shield near (Greensboro), but surface temperatures in the 36-39 degree range during that time and warm ground temperatures both suggest nil impact,” the update said.
A line of showers draped across the Southeast will dictate what areas see snow and how much on Friday evening into Saturday morning, ABC11 meteorologist Don Schwenneker said. Where the line settles as a cool, high-pressure area moves into the state will be the determining factor.
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This 4 AM EST surface analysis reveals one of the prohibitive factors for appreciable measurable snow in cntl NC. The weak ridge of high pressure from TX to NC is not sufficiently cold/dry to support much snow; and the upstream arctic front will be blocked by the Appalachians. pic.twitter.com/0KFIRMl9ia— NWS Raleigh (@NWSRaleigh) December 7, 2017
Light rain was expected to mix with and change to mostly wet snow Friday night into Saturday morning, the weather service said Thursday.
“We will see some snowflakes fly Saturday morning, early,” Schwenneker said. “Then as we go through the day, the clear skies back to the West push in, and that will give us sunshine and will melt off anything.
“I don’t think this is going to be a big travel problem for you. You certainly could see some snow, especially in the northern counties and some of the grassy areas. It’s not going to be much.”
The weather service said light snow accumulation – less than 1 inch and “generally a dusting” – is expected west of U.S. 1 and in elevated, grassy areas. A lack of cold air and warm ground temperatures should ensure that snow melts as it reaches the ground.
A weak ridge of high pressure from Texas to North Carolina along with arctic air blocked by the Appalachians combined to likely prevent much snow from accumulating in central North Carolina.
“The greatest amounts will likely occur in the I-85 corridor from Burlington northeast to the VA border,” the report said. “It is not out of the question that a couple hour burst of heavier precipitation rates could produce some localized greater amounts up to an inch or possibly two, but that is a low likelihood outcome.”
But it doesn’t take much to change snow forecasts.
“It typically only takes a wrinkle or two to sabotage snow forecast in central NC or to decrease the snow accumulation efficiency,and there are a lot of potential issues with this event including a lack of cold/dry air, a warm boundary layer, warm ground temperatures and questions about how far northwest the precipitation will extend,” the weather service said.
Highs on Friday were only expected to reach the lower 40s, with some areas staying in the upper 30s, with lows Friday night in the 30-36 range by Saturday morning. It’ll still be chilly on Saturday, with highs reaching into the lower 40s.
Watch the NOAA weather outlook for the winter of 2017-18 to find out the overall forecast for areas of the country.