By Tim Gardner
The first snowstorm of the 2021-2022 winter season is precited to hit the North Carolina High Country starting Sunday and lasting into Monday.
The National Weather Service has issued a Winter Storm Warning for the entire region, which is in effect from 10:00 p.m. Sunday, January 2 through 12:00 Noon Monday, January 3.
Heavy and quickly accumulating snow is expected with total accumulations of 3 to 8 inches. A High Wind Warning has also been issued with wind gusts expected to reach 40 miles-plus per hour. The gusty winds and wet snow could cause tree limbs to snap, especially along the higher elevations. This could result in power outages.
Travel could also be very difficult and the hazardous conditions will impact commutes on Sunday night, Monday and perhaps into Tuesday.
Rain is predicted for the region throughout much of Sunday. It’s expected to change over to snow at high elevations late Sunday evening, and then down to the valleys after midnight. A few pockets of brief freezing rain are possible during the transition from rain to snow, but all precipitation is predicted to change to snow by the early morning hours on Monday.
Although the ground is relatively warm because of the recent warm temperatures, the snow is expected to fall hard enough to accumulate on roads. The snow may linger into the middle part of the morning along the Tennessee border, but slippery roads are likely throughout the day and evening on Monday and into Tuesday.
Temperatures are predicted to be in the low 30s on Monday and in the teens on Monday night, so the snow may remain frozen or refreeze and won’t melt soon. Another bout of snow is also predicted for Thursday night, January 6. No amounts of accumulation for then have been announced by the National Weather Service.
This snowstorm is the result of a slow-moving cold front projected to stall across the Tidewater of Virginia, southwest into Georgia. Meanwhile, a secondary low will form on this cold front this evening while colder air from an upper-level disturbance moves across the southern Appalachians, effecting areas in several states.
This Hazardous Weather Projection for snow is for northwest North Carolina, southwest Virginia, East Tennessee, southeast Kentucky, northwest South Carolina west central Virginia and southeast West Virginia. It could also even stretch into Northern Alabama and northwestern Mississippi.
A Winter Storm Warning means severe winter weather conditions are expected, eminent or occurring. It specifically indicates that significant amounts of snow are likely, making travel dangerous. During such a snowstorm, only travel in an emergency. If you must travel, keep a flashlight, food, water and blankets or quilts in your vehicle in case you get stranded.
Stay tuned to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather Radio or your favorite source of weather information for the latest updates. Additional details can be found at www.weather.gov. The latest state road conditions can be obtained by calling 511.