WINTER STORM WATCH: Long lasting storm - Rain, sleet, snow - WECT, weather & sports Wilmington, NC

WINTER STORM WATCH: Long lasting storm - Rain, sleet, snow

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - Another powerful and long lasting winter storm moving into eastern North Carolina will impact the forecast for the next several days. Rain, sleet and snow will all be a part of a complicated weather forecast. Frequent checking of this web weather story is encouraged.

OVERVIEW: A stalled frontal boundary near the North Carolina coastline will act as a highway for two distinct areas of low pressure that will move moisture over cold air, bringing us a variety of weather conditions. Mainly rain is expected south of Wilmington transitioning to snow as you move from north to west with some accumulation expected in inland locations before rain showers move through Wednesday afternoon.

The cold air that was in place and in the wake of our January storm system isn't as potent this time around, thus we may be looking at a diminished chance for major transportation issues in the Wilmington area. How far east the freezing line progresses, and when the onset of precipitation occurs continues to be the most important unresolved variables in the forecast. 

TUESDAY MORNING: Light shower activity gets started before dawn. For Wilmington we may see a bit of sleet mix in, but the colder air will remain just to the west and north of the greater Wilmington area.  Some light snow and sleet accumulation is possible in Bladen, northern Pender, and Columbus counties.

TUESDAY AFTERNOON: Some mixed precipitation, and accumulation will be ongoing in inland locations. But again, Wilmington and points south will likely see the change over to rain as the first of two low pressure systems moves though.

TUESDAY NIGHT: Recent model trends now paint a picture of falling temperatures, but falling rain chances may be the saving grace - preventing widespread snow and sleet coverage. This, however, will be a time period that will warrant constant examination, and reexamination of the forecast, as subtle changes in temperature or moisture could lead to significant changes in foretasted precipitation.

WEDNESDAY MORNING: While models may differ some on the precipitation type and onset, it looks like it's a safe bet that we will see moisture falling from the sky. With the temperature starting just below freezing in Wilmington this may be our best chance to see snow and sleet. That being said, Wrightsville Beach, Surf City, Pleasure Island and the Brunswick County beaches will likely hover just above freezing - preventing significant accumulation - while inland locations should be cold enough to allow for the development of 1-3" of sleet and snow in northern Pender, Bladen and northern Columbus counties.

WEDNESDAY AFTERNOON: Rising temperatures as we enter the warm sector of the storm will help to switch precipitation over to rain as we move throughout the day. By dusk the rain/snow line will have moved well to our north up into the Raleigh/Durham area. 

WEDNESDAY NIGHT: We will see progressive drying. A very brief rain shower is possible and there is a small chance we could see a few snowflakes in inland locations as temperatures settle into the low 30s late. Little to no accumulation is expected Thursday morning.  

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