Forecasters say snow to fall on much of N.C.

Published 2:32 am Friday, January 18, 2013

RALEIGH — North Carolina had a little weather for everyone Thursday, although it was the threat of snow that grabbed the most attention.
Weather forecasters called for snow across much of the state late Thursday, with as much as 9 inches in the northwestern mountains. And while snow had begun falling in Jefferson and Morganton in the west in the early afternoon, in the southeast, Wilmington reported a reading of 76 degrees at 3 p.m.
The National Weather Service issued a winter storm warning for central North Carolina for Thursday and into Friday morning. A flood watch was also in effect for western counties with rain expected for the mountains and foothills.
Forecasters say precipitation will start as rain before a low pressure system and cold air combine to produce snow.
National Weather Service meteorologist Jonathan Blaes said two-thirds of the state should see some wet snow, with most accumulations expected along the interior piedmont. Blaes said the storm will be intense, but not for very long.
“When the rain changes to snow, it probably won’t last more than two, three, four hours,” he said. “It’s probably going to snow hard for brief periods of time. It just won’t last terribly long.”
Up to 9 inches of snow is expected around Boone, with up to 6 inches in the foothills and up to 4 inches in an area between Charlotte and Raleigh. An inch or more of snow is expected across much of the state.
Temperatures were mostly in the 40s and 50s across much of
the state at midday Thursday.
Heavy rains preceded the winter weather in the mountains, and that triggered at least 56 small landslides. N.C. Department of Transportation engineer Joel Setzer said Thursday that the approaching snow won’t likely cause any more slides.
“The slides are mainly caused because the soil absorbs all this moisture and becomes almost plastic in a way,” Setzer said. “It loses its cohesiveness and it’s heavier. The snow weight on top should not be an exacerbating factor. It’s the rain that’s the problem.”
Setzer said rockslides could be the next problem as water fills seams in the rock structure, then freezes. Thawing increases the risk of rockslides, he said.