Winter storm brings snow, sleet

Posted January 29, 2010 7:26 p.m. EST
Updated October 18, 2011 9:37 a.m. EDT

— A wintry mix continues to fall early Saturday in central North Carolina as part of a large storm expected to bring precipitation in the form of snow, sleet and freezing rain.

A remains in effect for most of the state until midnight Saturday.

By 4 a.m., 3 inches of snow had fallen in Durham, 2.1 inches in Raleigh, 2.8 inches in Cary and 2.5 inches in Holly Springs. Roxboro reported 1 inch and Greensboro 4 inches.

"We are going to see huge differences across the area as far as snowfall totals," WRAL meteorologist Elizabeth Gardner said. "Whatever snow we are seeing now is going to pile up until about lunchtime, especially around the Triangle area."

Warm air in the middle levels of the atmosphere was allowing sleet to start mixing in with snow over the Triangle.

“It’s sort of making an Oreo cookie sandwich with warm air in the middle, and that is why the snow is changing over to sleet," Gardner said.

The sleet line – where snow turns into sleet – extends north close to Raleigh and Rocky Mount. "But you get a little farther north, up to Durham and definitely the Virginia border, and it is all snow, and it is really coming down heavily," Gardner said.

The sleet is good news for Fayetteville and the Sandhills. It was keeping off predicted freezing rain, which could bring down power lines and cause outages.

It's not so good news for those who hope for high snowfall totals.

Areas around Person County and the Virginia border area could see 8 to 12 inches; the Triangle and areas just east and west of it could see 4 to 8 inches; and a stretch Southern Pines through Fayetteville to Goldsboro, could see 1 to 4 inches – along with freezing rain.

As the day goes on, that snow-sleet change-over is going to continue. The precipitation will taper off by early afternoon but linger as a light freezing drizzle in the afternoon. It will turn back into light snow or sleet Saturday night before finally ending around midnight.

Whatever falls is likely to stick around for some time: Temperatures will stay in the high 20s Saturday, crash into the teens overnight and won't rise above freezing Sunday.

"Our wind chills could be in the single digits overnight," Gardner said.

Monday will see a high in the low 40s.