Governor Roy Cooper and state emergency leaders remind people to pay close attention to their local forecast ahead of potential winter weather this weekend. Accumulating snow could lead to hazardous travel across the mountains late Saturday and into Sunday night.
“Parts of Western North Carolina may experience intense winter weather from the upcoming storm,” said Governor Cooper. “North Carolinians should prepare by making sure they have any necessary medications, food and emergency equipment.”
While most of North Carolina will remain dry during the earlier part of the day on Saturday, a strong low-pressure system is expected to move into the area late in the day and linger through Sunday night. The system will bring periods of moderate to heavy rain across central and eastern NC, with mainly snow expected across western parts of the state. Higher elevations above 4,000 feet could see snowfall amounts approach 12 inches, while the valleys could see 1-2 inches. However, localized snow bands may set up and create large differences in snowfall accumulations over short distances. While widespread-significant ice accumulation is not expected, areas across western NC could see a trace or a light glaze of ice accumulate Saturday night through Sunday. Up to 0.1 inch will be possible along some of the highest ridges, with greater amounts possible at the very top of Mount Mitchell. A brief changeover to snow is possible across the northern Piedmont late Saturday into Sunday but little to no impacts are expected.
Winter Storm Watches have been issued for most of the NC mountains, which will likely be upgraded to Winter Storm Warnings and Winter Weather Advisories tomorrow morning.
Most other areas in North Carolina will see scattered showers throughout the weekend where localized flash flooding and isolated minor river flooding will be possible. The coastal region will see gusty winds up to 45 mph that will increase the threat for minor coastal flooding. Gusty winds will continue through Sunday and into early next week across the east.
State emergency officials are monitoring the situation and are prepared to assist the counties and municipalities if needed. If you must drive in winter conditions, the State Highway Patrol advises reducing speed significantly, increasing distance between other vehicles, and clearing all snow and ice from your vehicle before traveling.
N.C. Department of Transportation crews in the mountains and foothills spent Friday readying their trucks for plowing and spreading salt and sand. Transportation crews will head home early this afternoon to rest so they can begin around-the-clock operations this weekend. Starting Saturday afternoon into Sunday, crews will monitor weather and mobilize, as needed, to plow and treat roads. Crews in western North Carolina are not brining the roads beforehand because the storm is forecast to bring heavy rain, which would wash away the salt-and-water mixture before the snow arrives.
Staff in the traffic management center covering the mountains will beef up staff this weekend to help manage traffic during the storm.
With the possibility of wintery precipitation in parts of the Piedmont this weekend, state transportation staff will be on standby, ready to respond if needed.
To keep safe during winter weather, North Carolina Emergency Management advises residents and visitors to follow these tips:
• Pay close attention to your local forecast and be prepared for what’s expected in your area.
• Keep cell phones, mobile devices and spare batteries charged.
• Use a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration weather radio or a weather alert app on your phone to receive emergency weather alerts.
• Dress warmly. Wear multiple layers of thin clothing instead of a single layer of thick clothing.
• Store an emergency kit in your vehicle. Include scraper, jumper cables, tow chain, sand/salt, blankets, flashlight, first-aid kit and road map.
• Gather emergency supplies for your pet including leash and feeding supplies, enough food for several days and a pet travel carrier.
• Do not leave pets outside for long periods of time during freezing weather.
• Look out for your friends, neighbors and the elderly during winter weather.
If your power goes out:
• Ensure generators are operated outside and away from open windows or doors to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.
• Never burn charcoal indoors or use a gas grill indoors.
• Properly vent kerosene heaters.
• Use battery-powered sources for light, instead of candles, to reduce the risk of fire.
Visit ReadyNC.gov for more information on winter weather safety and preparation. For real-time travel information, visit DriveNC.gov or follow NCDOT on social media.