'Beautiful' weekend on tap, winter will follow

Posted January 31, 2009 8:00 a.m. EST
Updated January 31, 2009 11:28 p.m. EST

— Beautiful, sometimes mild weather this weekend belies what could be a cold, even snowy start to next week.

"We've got a nice weekend to kind of catch our breath and enjoy the outdoors for the a couple days before things start to get really interesting," WRAL meteorologist Nate Johnson said. "We've got some beautiful weather on tap for this Super Bowl weekend."

The skies will stay clear throughout the weekend, and "wall-to-wall sunshine" will keep any precipitation far away from North Carolina, Johnson said.

Saturday saw highs in the mid-40s. Southwesterly winds will blow in Sunday, letting temperatures rise to a balmy 60 degrees.

Daytime temperatures Monday will dip slightly, into the mid 50s, while a low-pressure system offshore draws moisture into North Carolina. Rain will fall, likely starting in the afternoon.

But as a cold front moves in from the north during the late evening, temperatures will fall into the high 20s overnight – low enough for snow to also fall.

"By Monday evening, we get the moisture right on top of us, and we start to see that rain-snow line right about 11 o'clock. So we might see whatever light precipitation we have changing over as soon as Monday night," Johnson said.

The trick to getting wintry precipitation on Tuesday will be keeping the offshore moisture flowing into the state long enough after the cold front arrives.

WRAL meteorologist Kim Deaner said snow is "looking less likely at this point" with some computer models showing not enough moisture in the area. WeatherScope shows the moisture scooting out Tuesday morning before snow can fall for long.

"By 5 o'clock Tuesday morning, bang! The precip is gone, the moisture's outta here," Johnson said. In that scenario, the Triangle would not see a significant accumulation of snow.

However, the timing and intensity of weather systems remains uncertain, meaning the potential for snowfall could change.

"Keep an eye on this, because as we saw a couple weeks ago, just a very small shift in the forecast can mean mountains," Johnson said.