Cold, wind follow 'big, fat, fluffy' flakes

Posted November 21, 2008
Updated November 22, 2008

— Cold air blasted back in and some "big, fat, fluffy flakes" fell early Friday, but central North Carolina is also under a burn warning, WRAL Meteorologist Elizabeth Gardner said.

Four-tenths of an inch of snow fell at the Raleigh-Durham International Airport, setting a record for the day.

More snowbursts might occur throughout the day, Gardner said. A WRAL viewer reported one in north Raleigh around noon.

Cumulus clouds began forming, and some activity was pushing in from the Virginia border.

"It's not completely over yet," Gardner said. "Any one of those clouds could produce a little snow or rain or a little snow-rain mix."

Send and view pictures of the snow.

Cold and wind became the top story after the morning snow. Temperatures barely warmed up into the low 40s, and strong winds blew, gusting up to 25 mph.

"Because of the cold air spilling in, we're going to have a rough time warming up," Gardner said. The wind chill kept things even colder, making the air feel like it was in the low 30s or high 20s in some places.

The wind will also drop humidity levels rapidly and could fuel wildfires. The National Weather Service advised residents in central North Carolina to avoid burning leaves.

Overnight, record lows will be possible, creating a bitter-cold outlook for the Raleigh Christmas parade. The morning will start out in the low 20s and get to around 30 degrees by the start of the parade.

Temperatures on Friday and Saturday will be about 20 degrees lower than normal, Gardner said.

Morning snow falls across state

The arrival of a cold front and an upper-level disturbance at the same time made the snow early Friday.

"We've got the colder air coming in as the precipitation comes in. ... It's just working out perfectly this morning," Gardner said.

The snow band entered Caswell County around midnight and then slowly moved east and south in the day's early hours. For a while, the last few tendrils of the band trailed over Wake County, then the band pushed east of Interstate 95.

"We've got a nice little swath of snow. I wouldn't even call it flurries; I'd call it snow showers," Gardner said.

WRAL viewers reported that snow started falling steadily around 2:30 a.m. and covered the ground in northern Person County, Roanoke Rapids and Mebane.

Snow showers were also seen in Cary, Raleigh, Durham, Rolesville, Tarboro and in Johnston and Granville counties. Radar showed snow falling as far south as Fayetteville, Southern Pines and Sampson County.

The heaviest snow in central portions of the state fell north and west of a line from Henderson to Durham to Asheboro. Around Winston-Salem, along Interstate 40, about half-an-inch fell.

"Other places in our viewing area got just a trace, and it melted very quickly," Gardner said.

In mountains, police responded to dozens of wrecks during the surprise snowfall.

A truck jackknifed and rescue crews took the driver to a hospital. Police said the truck spilled some diesel fuel, but not enough to be considered dangerous.

A stretch of Interstate 40 near the Buncombe-Haywood county line was closed and traffic detoured while crews spread salt on the roadway.

Schools in Asheville and other mountain counties closed for the day. Students in Guilford and Forsyth counties got a two-hour delay.

Colder, wetter winter ahead

Forecasters say winter in North Carolina could be wetter and colder than the past few seasons, despite a Southern outlook for drier and warmer conditions.

National Weather Service meteorologist Jeff Orrock said Thursday that the state will likely see a decrease in global weather patterns that have made past winters warmer and drier.

Orrock said forecasters examined weather records for past years when conditions were similar to the start of this winter. He said that in those years, the temperatures were colder and there was more precipitation.

He said the last active winter was in 2004, when about 2 feet of snow fell in Asheboro.

The National Weather Service on Thursday released its annual national winter weather outlook for December through February.


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  • andigirl8383 Nov 21, 2008

    This is not only an insult to the WRAL weather team, but an insult to all citizens of North Carolina: If the news channel hypes everyone up for a snow storm (which hasn't happened in 15 years; or so), then everyone rushes to the grocery store and they all call off school. WHO DOES THIS? You guys need to get a grip on reality. Good grief! A half inch of snow, a half inch!, or even flurries does not cause problems on the road. However, black ice and actual snow causes problems, but do you know where black ice and snow occur? IN THE NORTH! From Tennessee (if they're lucky), Kentucky and the states above. You guys need to get a life and stop calling off school in the slightest incident of a snow FLURRY.

  • John Q Public Nov 21, 2008

    Actually the Fish et al have gotten 2 snow events correct for the area this Fall/Winter already. They always do a great job with the snow storms in my opinion. All anyone can predict with any degree of accuracy is if we will get precip and what type. The amount is up to chance.

    No one gets mad if we get 1" of rain as opposed to the forecast 0.5" of rain. But when we get 1" of snow as opposed to 5" of snow everyone goes crazy, when they are not exactly right. 5" of snow isn't equivalent to 5" of rain so thats what makes it extra hard to predict winter precip amounts.

  • preppykev2004 Nov 21, 2008

    i love how all these people insult the WRAL weather team about thie inability to correctly forecast, but we always see them posting comments in the weather forums. to not like the WRAL weather team, they sure love to watch their forecasts. hmmmm

  • aanda8104 Nov 21, 2008

    If there were not pictures to prove it you would never know it had snowed here. Oh well! Here's to wishing for more of the same on a Thursday night, Friday make it a long weekend.

  • Pineview Style Nov 21, 2008

    "We can always count on someone making the milk and bread comment anytime there's a mention of snow. I suppose they don't realize that the exact same comment has been made about a million times before. And it stopped being clever several years ago." -Justabum

    I wonder how much of this stuff is actually consumed or does it just serve as a "teddy bear effect" to help one get through the elements.

    BTW, it's sunny outside now!

  • Garnerwolf1 Nov 21, 2008

    37: I also thought that was a very unusual statement. She must have been up late and wasn't thinking clearly.

  • smeade1 Nov 21, 2008

    iron fist-
    my hubby says the same thing...I've been in the stand with him, and even the slicks are fat!

  • Ajay F.S. Nov 21, 2008

    hmmm, I live in Northern Person County, and we only had a tiny bit of snow on the chairs on our back deck. My hubby actually said the farther south you went in Person, the more snow was on the ground. I wonder where in Northern Person there was accumulation?

  • iron fist Nov 21, 2008

    justabum people still clean off the shelves at the mention of snow. One not to add to Tiny's comment when deer eat well and fatten up for the winter be prepared for a rough winter. Deer are fat this year.

  • Justabum Nov 21, 2008

    We can always count on someone making the milk and bread comment anytime there's a mention of snow. I suppose they don't realize that the exact same comment has been made about a million times before. And it stopped being clever several years ago.