Snow in forecast for Christmas Day

Posted December 23, 2010

— A storm moving in from the west is gathering steam and gathering data as it barrels its way east and could result in a white Christmas for North Carolina, WRAL meteorologist Mike Maze said.

The low-pressure system making its way across the United States is forecast to combine with a low-pressure system tracking up the North Carolina coast on Saturday and Sunday. If that union takes place close to the Carolina coast, the Triangle and areas to the east could see significant amounts of snow.

If the low moves south and east of the coast, coastal and far eastern North Carolina will see the majority of any snowfall. 

"Everybody should see some light snow on Saturday," Maze said. "On Sunday, the part of the state along and east of Interstate 95 has the greatest potential to see accumulation."

He pointed out that forecasters consider multiple models and while all the models were forecasting snow for the Triangle Saturday and Sunday, the amounts are far from certain.

"We're talking about a 30 percent probability of one inch or greater in the Sandhills, Raleigh and the rest of central North Carolina," Maze said.

WRAL Weather team WRAL WeatherCenter Forecast

The storm system, which formed over the Pacific Ocean and brought heavy flooding in southern California was moving faster Thursday, gaining the speed that could push it further offshore once it reaches the east cost, Maze said.

"There are fewer weather balloons and therefore less data over the Pacific," Maze said. "Now that the storm is over land, the models have more weather balloons to query, more data to crunch and a better idea of what the storm really is."

Snow is likely to begin falling on the evening of Christmas Day and continue into the night. The snowfall could last into Sunday morning, and temperatures might not get above freezing that day.

"It looks like we'll see flurries Sunday in Raleigh," Maze said, "but not significant accumulation."

Roads readied for holiday travel

State Department of Transportation crews began laying brine, which is an anti-icing mixture of salt and water, on highways and major four-lane roads Thursday. Road crews in local towns and cities have also started pre-treating roads so that crews can spend Christmas Day with their families.

The DOT says without rain to wash it away, the brine will last up to 72 hours.  

Roads prepped for snow, ice, rain Roads prepped for snow, ice, rain

State emergency management officials said they are monitoring the storm system and taking precautions in case weather becomes an issue over the weekend.

"Now we're just kind of sitting back, waiting, watching the forecast," said Joseph Turner of NCDOT. "We'll have everybody ready when it comes. Our crews will be ready to move the snow when it starts happening."

“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.

Some of those planning a holiday weekend in Raleigh hit the stores Thursday to stock up on ice melt and firewood. 

Chris Fisher was preparing with a purchase of ice melt. A white Christmas, he said, would be "magical."

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.


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  • Shamrock Dec 24, 2010

    Waiting - "oh, and mark down another for me in the "win" column"

    Yesterday you said it was going to snow, now you say it won't. The time of the event has not even come yet and you are claiming victory? Why can you keep changing your prediction as the time of the event gets closer, but you complain when WRAL changes their prediction? You seem to have a way to make it so you are always right. Still waiting for you to post how you were wrong on the last 2 snow events. What is your record thus far this season for snow predictions? 0 for 2, 0 for 3?

  • jakejakewalker Dec 23, 2010

    Maybee just Maybe this could be a reapeat of 2000 ... barely any snow forecasted and then 2 feet gets dumped.. i sure do hope so

  • jemclern Dec 23, 2010

    For anyone who is interested in actually viewing the "European model", which has been discussed a lot since the onset of this storm, you can see it here:

    Also on that website, you can view the GFS and NAM models which were discussed in one of WRAL's recent news articles.

  • Road-wearier Dec 23, 2010

    "oh, and mark down another for me in the "win" column."

    Naah. I'll just mark you down in the 'really bitter and grouchy dude' column...

  • mjeffrey Dec 23, 2010

    Thank you Awake in Wake, Sometimes "stuff" just happens.

  • akgibson20 Dec 23, 2010

    I can actually enjoy the snow here because I know it won't last that long. I used to live in the far north in Maine where it snowed about every other day, you battled it every day and it was just too cold to enjoy it. The first snowfall would be pretty but then as it piles up and they plow it the whole place just looks dirty, dirty roads, dirty snow, just generally nasty looking and feeling. A white Christmas here would be short lived and beautiful.

  • NoObamaCare Dec 23, 2010

    It is the time of Joy and Giving; and there seems to be a lot of " Grumpy Scrooges " on here complaining just to complain. I grew up in the North and loved a white Christmas as a child. Now as a adult, I still get excited and anxious for a little snow around the is just fitting! Happy Holidays everyone!

  • emeraldangeleyes Dec 23, 2010

    instead of blaming the government, dont blame anyone at all. life happens.

  • Awake in Wake Dec 23, 2010

    injameswetrust - How would that be the school system's fault? We live in a county-wide public school system. I have never seen them break the county up and cancel school in Cary but have school in Raleigh. If the road conditions were becoming hazardous, then the public schools had to act. Also, the fact that the snow melted and froze to the pavement prior to rush hour did not help matters. There are apparently a lot of tea baggers on this blog that want to blame government for everything. Sometimes things just happen and we have to deal with it. It is not the government's fault or anyone else's for that matter.

  • emeraldangeleyes Dec 23, 2010

    it would be nice. extremely nice to see snow on christmas. i'm 19, and i dont remember a single white christmas. the closest it came was when it snowed 20 minutes after midnight on dec 26, 2004