Snow Forecast for Wednesday, January 17


Snow’s in the forecast for NC, which means we’re all losing our minds. Where do you turn when you need your weather forecast? We usually Trust the Moose™. Here’s the info on the Snow Forecast for Wednesday, January 17.


A strong cold front is sweeping eastward today through the TN and OH Valleys and will reach far western NC this afternoon before moving fully into the state tonight. The atmosphere, while chilly, isn’t unusually dry like we saw with the event earlier this month that limited snowfall amounts and led to the ‘snow hole’ event across central NC. Which means that texts from Goodson complaining about my forecast will hopefully be kept at a minimum. (NARRATOR: They will amplify).

Another reason we shouldn’t see a snow hole scenario is the broad nature of the cold front, which acts as the lifting mechanism that we need to generate the precipitation. The front pushes underneath the warmer, more moist air at the surface and drives the air upwards where it condenses. Condensation eventually turns to clouds and precipitates out. Ahead of the front, we’ll see southerly to southwesterly flow at the surface, further aiding in increasing moisture across the state.

What could go wrong?

Like with anything dealing with NC and winter weather, the Appalachians pose a threat here. Think of them like a speed bump for the front. The air mass has an existing amount of moisture already with it and when it moves over geographic barriers, the column compresses. This compression leads to cooling and precipitation. Once the air moves back over the mountains, that column stretches back out to the surface. Stretching the column allows for warming and drying. It’s why we might not see too much snow just to the east of the mountains here. So there’s the potential some of the moisture could get sapped and the front could weaken. But there’s been no indication of that in the model simulations to this point. There’s not a ton of moisture with the system as it is, so any diminishing amounts here will change things.


We should see reports of rainfall in the western Piedmont areas beginning around 3 or 4AM. Rain should relatively quickly turn to snow and the line should advance eastward, reaching the Triangle by 5 or 6AM and the I-95 corridor by 9 or 10AM. Snow should last a majority of the day, ending in the Triad by 1 or 2PM, the Triangle by 4 or 5PM, and points eastward a couple of hours later.


Based on what we know now, the heaviest snowfall is expected within an area from Roxboro to Roanoke Rapids southward towards Southern Pines. 2-4″ of snowfall is expected with locally higher amounts ranging from 5-6″. Surrounding that area, we should see totals of 1-3″ with locally higher amounts possible. Farther south, more rain should mix in, limiting amounts. Towards the mountains and coast, lesser amounts are expected. Ditto for the coast as the front starts to sputter.


We’ll see a shitty travel day on Wednesday with slick road conditions and decreased visibility at times. So try not to be on the roads if you can avoid it, Snow Mode on your vehicle be damned. You’ll likely see school closings popping up this afternoon in advance of the event. Temperatures will warm above freezing on Thursday and into the weekend, so the effects won’t linger like they did for the previous system. Some delays on Thursday are possible, maybe additional closings.