Snow Potential Friday Night

Not much has changed with the forecast for the storm that will affect the East Coast starting Friday. However, there remains considerable uncertainty about how the storm will affect South Carolina. Here are the key points:

  • South Carolina will be on the southern edge of the area which will see snow.
  • Those with plans to travel north along the East Coast during this time should prepare for hazardous road travel and air travel delays. Some roads and airports in New England could close for a time. Staying home could be a better choice.
  • The part of South Carolina with the best chance to see snow is the northern half of the state.
  • A heavy snow event (at least four inches) looks unlikely anywhere in South Carolina.
  • Precipitation will start as rain in most areas Friday afternoon, with a transition to snow Friday night, though it might be all snow in the Upstate.
  • Timing of the snow looks to be Friday night, though it may linger into early Saturday near the coast.
  • Temperatures drop well below freezing Friday night; even with only a little snow, there can be slick spots on roads.
  • It will also be blustery Friday night, leading to harsh wind chill in the single digits and teens, but no damaging winds are in the forecast.
  • This weekend will be quite cold like last weekend; snow will be slow to melt, especially if it turns out to be more than an inch or two.

Rain will spread over much of the state Friday afternoon, then arctic air rushes in behind a cold front later in the day and at night, turning the rain to snow from northwest to southeast. The snow will last for roughly 4-6 hours. For most of the state, the snow will be light, accumulating an inch at most. However, some models have consistently shown two potential ‘jackpot’ areas. One is York, Chester and Lancaster Counties, north through the Charlotte Metro area. Whether or not this happens depends on how much moisture is available to the cold front as it crosses that area. The other area which could do well is the Pee Dee, which would be late Friday night as the storm really gets cranking over the Carolina coastal waters; this depends on how fast the storm can get its act together. If it’s slow to organize, then there won’t be much snow in the Pee Dee.

Aside from those two areas, forecasters don’t see any reasonable way that there’s more than a coating to an inch of snow Friday night. Of course, this much snow can still cause slick roads, especially those which go untreated ahead of the event.

Much of the Central Savannah River Area and Lowcountry will either see no snow or just flurries. In situations like this where you have cold air chasing moisture, it’s hard to get much snowfall and forecasters don’t think that the cold air will arrive in time for those areas to get more than flurries. Some of the models show the potential for areas as far south as Charleston to see a small accumulation, but forecasters said that is doubtful.

Simulated radar reflectivity from Wednesday’s 18Z run of the NAM model.
(You may need to click or tap on the image above to start the animation)