White Christmas likely as low-pressure system sweeps country

Posted December 22, 2010

— Dreaming of a white Christmas? There’s a chance that this could be the year.

A low-pressure system causing flooding and mudslides in Southern California is forecast to make its way across the United States to North Carolina on Saturday and Sunday, bringing the possibility of wintry weather.

If that happens, it could be the first time since 1947 that it has snowed in the Triangle on Christmas, according to the National Weather Service.

"It's not set in stone, not something to hang our hats on yet, but there is great potential we're going to see some white stuff this weekend,” said WRAL meteorologist Mike Maze.

Computer models Wednesday show that the storm system is expected to weaken as it approaches the state and intensify again once it gets off the North Carolina-South Carolina coast around Sunday morning.

What happens next depends on the track the storm takes.

One scenario is that the system will stay close to the coast.

"If that's the case, we're talking about snowfall making its way farther to the west and that means more snow, impacting more people," Maze said. 

The other possibility is that the storm will build farther offshore.

“That means less snow, impacting fewer people, but still, here in central North Carolina, we could see a good dose of snow," Maze said.

The areas with the greatest potential of snowfall are in the central and eastern part of the state, including Wake, Durham, Orange, Johnston, Sampson, Wayne, Wilson, Nash, Edgecombe, Pitt, Hoke, Cumberland, Lee and Moore counties.

“It’s still too early to talk about totals, but the one thing I can tell you is that it is looking more promising that we will see snow this weekend,” he added.

Emergency management crews, meanwhile, said Wednesday that they are monitoring the storm system and taking precautions, in case weather becomes an issue over the weekend.

Snow not out of Christmas picture this year Snow not out of Christmas picture this year

Road crews with the North Carolina Department of Transportation will begin spreading a salt-brine solution on major interstates and roads, beginning Thursday.

The State Highway Patrol will also have additional troopers on call for the weekend, and the state Division of Emergency Management was coordinating with local emergency agencies across the state.

“We know many people will be traveling for the holidays, and we want everyone to be prepared and especially careful,” state Emergency Management Director Doug Hoell said in a statement. “Now is the time to watch those weather forecasts and update those emergency supplies kits for your home and car.”

Hoell added that holiday travelers should plan on reaching their destination by Saturday afternoon, then make plans to stay put for a few days, if needed.

High temperatures are forecast to be in the upper 40s Wednesday through Friday before dropping to the mid- to upper 30s on Saturday and Sunday. Wind chills, however, will make the temperatures feel more like the 30s.

Lows are expected to be at or below freezing each day.

The system responsible for North Carolina’s possible winter weather has already dropped a record amount of rain in California since last week.

Some locations in Southern California have received more than 12 inches of rain – the most in one storm since 2005.

The flooding and mudslides have prompted emergency officials there to evacuate thousands of homes.


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  • Keepin_it_real_in_NC Dec 22, 2010

    Blast to the past. A Newsweek article about the global freeze printed 30 years ago.

  • geosol Dec 22, 2010

    This is especially important with the upcoming Holiday weekend when so many have travel plans. Sorry about all of the usual haters and trolls out there, but i'm sure there are thousands more people who are thankful for the early warnings as opposed to being caught in a snowstorm with no preparation.

  • bonnnie Dec 22, 2010

    Its like every other time I hear about we are getting snow. I will believe it when I see it!

  • Keepin_it_real_in_NC Dec 22, 2010

    Goodness gracious, another ice age. Reminds me of the 70's when the environmental wackos told us we were creating global cooling. Guess what??? They're back!!!

  • geosol Dec 22, 2010

    Appreciate the "heads' up" a few days in advance so that folks can plan ahead accordingly. Very thankful that modern technology allows us to be warned of these types of possible events in advance so that we can take appropriate precautions. Progress!!

  • Jakethesnake Dec 22, 2010

    I just know it will all stay east and the triangle will get flurries, always does 99 times out of 100. I hope we get it though, but you know it aint happening triangle!

  • godnessgracious Dec 22, 2010

    6 foot rise in sea levels by 2100:

  • DeathRow-IFeelYourPain-NOT Dec 22, 2010

    Woo Hoo!!! Bring IT!!!

  • godnessgracious Dec 22, 2010

    Does anyone still believe the myth of global warming?

    Yes. Of course they do. The greenhouse effect is very real, and has helped create the proper conditions. If abused it can also bring those conditions out of tolerance. The planet is not going anywhere, but if it can't support human life in a few thousand years you sure would have egg on your face.

  • fl2nc2ca2md2nc Dec 22, 2010

    Hey yeahyeah, that's true 99% of the time. But if it's like the storm that gave us 22" back in '99, we didn't see a plow on our road for a full week they were so backed up. And we are in the city limits...of course all the plow did was turn it into a 2" sheet of ice on the road, didn't really help at all. But I'm kinda hoping for a repeat, it was pretty awesome!