Posted by Meteorologist Robb Ellis - bio | email | facebook
WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - Winter Storm Warnings are now posted for the entire viewing area. Accumulating snow is expected.
Strengthening low pressure moving along the Carolina coastline Christmas night will bring rain showers to the coastline, that should change over to snow by Sunday morning.
A Winter Storm Warning has been issued for Bladen, Brunswick, Columbus, New Hanover, Pender, Sampson, Cumberland, Duplin, Onslow and Robeson Counties
TRY IT : Use our Interactive Radar to track the rain and snow across the Carolinas.
Light precipitation is expected to begin Saturday night as a rain/snow mix, continue as rain along the coast before changing over to all snow as the system exits. Inland, the system may dump only snow.
Even though precipitation amounts will be highest along the immediate coast, snowfall totals will be lightest, especially in Brunswick and southern New Hanover County. Most of the precipitation there will fall as rain, meaning snow accumulations will be lighter. However, a faster changeover could make for much higher totals.
Accumulations of up to an inch are possible along the Brunswick County beaches and southern New Hanover.
Farther north and inland, accumulations could reach 1 to 2 inches of snow for New Hanover County (including Wilmington), Pender County and north Brunswick County.
In Bladen, Columbus and Duplin Counties, 3-4 inches or more of snow could fall. Given then uncertainty of model guidance with this system, slight variations in the track of the low could make someone a snowfall jackpot winner.
Locally higher amounts will be expected, especially in the area where heavier snowfall rates allow more snow to punch through the colder rain.
Read the full forecast discussion
This same storm system brought flooding rains to the Pacific coast moved east to redevelop in the central US. An additional low will dive south along the Gulf coast states and bring snow to the South for Christmas Day.
Who will have a white Christmas?
That low will intensify along the Carolina coast and dump heavy precipitation inland. But how much of that precipitation will be frozen, and how much will be rain?
It will all depend on the track of the low. Too close to shore, and rain is more likely along the coast, while snow falls heavily in the Piedmont of NC.
If the low moves offshore, snow can fall heavily along the coastal plain. This is the scenario that happened earlier this year on February 13, 2010, when 3 to 7 inches of snow fell across coastal NC.
In 1989 a rapidly intensifying winter storm off the Carolina coast just a few days before Christmas brought 15 to 20 inches to southeastern NC. With enough snow on the ground to make a white Christmas in Wilmington the snow pack created some very cold temperatures. Snow on the ground helped temperatures reach 0 degrees on Christmas morning. This is the lowest temperature on record for Wilmington.
Take a look back at the Christmas Storm of 1989.
In 2000 a storm took a track closer to the coast, dropping very heavy snow across central North Carolina. Over 20 inches of snow fell between Charlotte and Raleigh, while amounts along the coast were only a few inches.
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