Despite winter storm watch, chances for snow event decrease

Posted January 19, 2016 12:52 p.m. EST
Updated January 20, 2016 11:03 p.m. EST

— Winter weather is headed to parts of central and eastern North Carolina late Thursday night, but WRAL Chief Meteorologist is predicting that the storm won’t be as strong as initially anticipated.

The National Weather Service issued a winter storm watch Wednesday afternoon for much of central North Carolina, beginning late Thursday night until Saturday at 6 p.m.

WRAL chief meteorologist Greg Fishel said southern Virginia, Maryland and even Pennsylvania will see intense snowfall, but he is cautiously optimistic about the forecast for the Triangle.

“There’s a chance we can get out of this without major problems but there’s just too much risk to ignore,” he said.

Fishel initially believed that the precipitation would begin falling Friday morning in the form of snow, but said that now the most likely scenario is for sleet and freezing rain that will transition to plain rain later in the day Friday.

“I just do not think there’s a way that we can pull a big snowstorm out of this in the Triangle,” Fishel said.

Highs on the final day of the work week will be in the upper 30s.

The chances for significant snowfall on Saturday have also decreased, according to Fishel. He explained that once the main area of moisture passes by on Friday, it falls apart, preventing anything more than flurries from falling.

Fishel said that even though it appears as though weather models show the system trending away from being a major snow event for the Triangle, there is still a possibility that things could change if the storm’s track shifts.

“There’s still just enough potential to make me nervous,” he said.

With the potential for frozen precipitation, the N.C. Department of Transportation says work crews in two divisions covering 10 central counties are standing by to begin treating roads with anti-icing material.

The area will clear out on Sunday as temperatures return to the mid-40s, and the Triangle could be in the 50s on Monday under partly cloudy skies.