Winter storm watch, snow ahead

As temperatures linger in low 30s, the rain will likely start changing over to snow, west to east across the state Sunday afternoon.

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Successive cold fronts brought cold rain on Saturday and are expected to cause sleet and snow late Sunday.

"It's going to be an active weather weekend," WRAL meteorologist Mike Moss said. Saturday will be "a rainy day with temperatures that'll be a little topsy-turvy."

Amid temperatures in the mid 50s, a cold front began dropping light rain before dawn. The rain continued throughout the day, with totals ranging from nearly an inch at Raleigh-Durham International Airport to 1 1/2 inches in Fayetteville. Temperatures also fell during the day, slipping into the mid 40s in mid afternoon and into the upper 30s by evening.

Triangle residents will see a drier spell Saturday night, but a cold front will blast its way in Sunday morning. Clouds will thicken, and rain start to fall again in the late morning.

As temperatures linger in low 30s, the rain will likely start changing over to snow, west to east across the state Sunday afternoon.

"Especially through the western half of our viewing area, later tomorrow and into tomorrow night, we have at least a decent chance of ... some accumulating snow," Moss said.

Raleigh could see between 2 and 4 inches of snow, WRAL meteorologist Mike Maze said. The Triad could see 3 to 5 inches. "It is entirely possible the entire state could see some snow out of this," Maze said.

The amount of snow will depend on the "storm track and how warm the ground is when the snow hits the ground," he said.

Pockets of freezing rain and sleet could develop from the early afternoon on. In central North Carolina, the change-over to snow will likely happen in the evening.

Snow was predicted to continue fall through Sunday night and be heavy at times. Roads could become treacherous as temperatures drop below freezing during the night.

The N.C. Department of Transportation crews in the Triangle and in northern parts of the state were on standby Saturday in preparation for possible snow, spokeswoman Dara Demi said. The rain and above-freezing temperatures prevented them from spreading brine on roadways.

DOT engineers will be keeping a close watch on the forecast and will reassess their plans Sunday morning, officials said.

Temperatures will fall into the low 20s, but blustery winds around 20 mph and gusts up to 40 mph could make it feel like it's in the teens.

Snowfall will taper off Monday morning.

A winter storm watch from the National Weather Service predicts that by Monday morning, 3 to 5 inches of snow could have fallen on central North Carolina, along and west of the Interstate 95/U.S. Highway 1 corridor.
March snow is rare, but not unprecedented in the Carolinas.

A storm on March 1, 1980, crippled North Carolina. At least 6 inches of snow was reported almost statewide, with more than a foot falling from Interstate 95 eastward. Snow also fell that day in South Carolina, with 7 inches reported in Florence, 4 inches in Anderson and Columbia and an inch in Charleston.