Black ice and more than a foot of snow could blanket parts of the North Carolina mountains, bringing the potential for dangerous driving conditions this holiday weekend.
A winter storm watch has been issued in Buncombe and several more of the state’s western counties from late Saturday, Jan. 15, to early Monday, Jan. 17.
Though forecasters said amounts could change, up to 12 inches of snow or sleet are possible in Asheville, Waynesville and other places in the mountains. As much as 18 inches could fall near Brevard and Marion.
#Alerts-A #WinterStormWatch has been issued for late Saturday night-Monday AM for the entire forecast area. Significant travel disruptions are likely & power outages remain possible. Snow amounts of 8-12" expected along I-81/I-77 corridor. Lesser amounts east. #vawx #ncwx #wvwx pic.twitter.com/nIC7Plbgfn
— NWS Blacksburg (@NWSBlacksburg) January 14, 2022
“Precipitation may begin as early as Saturday afternoon across parts of the mountains, eventually falling as mostly snow and increasing in coverage and intensity late Saturday night,” the weather service said on its website. “The precipitation may briefly change to sleet and freezing rain before tapering off Sunday afternoon and evening in most areas, although snow showers are expected to linger along the Tennessee border into Monday morning.”
Early Monday, there’s also the potential for “widespread black ice,” which could continue through mid-week. Those conditions often happen when melting snow refreezes at night and can make driving hazardous.
MAJOR WINTER STORM EXPECTED DURING THE LATTER HALF OF THE WEEKEND: Snow totals have dropped off for the NC/SC Piedmont and in return, more ice is expected. Areas highlighted in red will need to prepare for a damaging ice storm. Stay weather aware! #scwx #ncwx #gawx pic.twitter.com/UBt2rDV2k5
— NWS GSP (@NWSGSP) January 14, 2022
Over the Martin Luther King Jr. weekend, “travel could be very difficult to impossible,” and ice has the potential to cause power outages and damage to trees in some areas, forecasters said.
In Asheville, daytime temperatures are expected to climb to 40 degrees on Saturday before dropping to an overnight low in the 20s. Rain is possible before 7 p.m., followed by a chance of snowfall late Saturday and on Sunday.
Other places in North Carolina are also bracing for the possibility of winter weather. Parts of the Charlotte area could see as much as a “half inch of freezing rain,” and ice brings the potential for dangerous driving conditions to the Triangle, McClatchy News reported.