With gradient shift, areas north and west of Triangle get bulk of winter weather
Posted January 7
Raleigh, N.C. — While snow lovers in Wake County, and areas to the south, may have been disappointed by the snowfall totals on Saturday, people in Person County and the Triad woke up to a winter wonderland.
But what happened to cause the major snow fall to shift to the north and west?
"We talked a lot over the last couple of days about the gradient," said WRAL Chief Meteorologist Greg Fishel. "We said if that gradient shifts over 25 miles it will make a big difference."
And that is exactly what happened.
"Trying to nail down exactly where that gradient will be is nearly impossible," Fishel said. "There is a very little chance of getting it exactly right."
On Friday night, Fishel pointed out the boundary that seemed to fall directly above Wake County, which divided where precipitation turned from rain to snow.
“It’s mainly rain south and east of that band and mainly snow north and west," Fishel said late Friday. "If an area is not accumulating snow by 7 a.m. or 8 a.m. in the morning, they're not going to get anything significant."
But, he said, what happened was one of the least likely scenarios as snow totals across the Triangle stayed between 1 to 3 inches.
Raleigh-Durham International Airport recorded 1 inch of snow, Apex had one-half inch, and Durham recorded 1 to 3 inches. The National Weather Service reported 9 inches in Roxboro and 3 inches in Chapel Hill. The highest recorded total was in Guilford County at 11 inches.
"On Friday night all the ensemble models were saying over six inches of snow in Raleigh — every one," Fishel said. "There was no indication that what happened would happen."