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Charlotte Area

Snowy Weekend Ahead: What You Need To Know

City workers began priming Charlotte's streets with anti-icing salt brine Friday ahead of wintry weather expected to arrive this weekend.
Nick de la Canal
City workers began priming Charlotte's streets with anti-icing salt brine Friday ahead of wintry weather expected to arrive this weekend.

Does it seem like the grocery store is running low on bread and milk? Does the parking lot outside the wine store seem unusually crowded? No surprise, because forecasters have raised the possibility of snow and sleet in the Charlotte region this weekend.

Here's what you need to know:

Wintry mix likely in Charlotte; heavier snow in the mountains and foothills

The Charlotte area will likely see a wintry mix of freezing rain, snow, and sleet beginning Saturday night continuing through Sunday. Areas to the west and the north of Charlotte can expect heavier snowfall, with some areas of the mountains expecting up to a foot-and-a-half.

According to the National Weather Service, Charlotte will see rain on Saturday, which will slowly turn to sleet and snow as temperatures tumble into the low 30s Saturday night.

On Sunday, temperatures will remain in the lower 30s as morning sleet transitions to freezing rain in the afternoon. More freezing rain and sleet is likely Sunday night, with a chance that the wintry mix extends through Monday morning.

In total, the Charlotte area is expected to see between six and ten inches of rain and sleet by the end of the weekend.

Residents in North Carolina's foothills and mountains, meanwhile, will likely see heavier snowfall. Hickory and Asheville are projected to get five inches of snow, while Boone could see up to 18 inches.

The Triangle area is also bracing for the possibility of two to six inches of snow and sleet. In eastern North Carolina, authorities are warning of heavy rain and coastal flooding.

Governor will call a state of emergency

At a Friday morning press briefing, North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said he planned to declare a statewide state of emergency, citing the winter storm's potential to generate treacherous driving conditions and shut down power in some areas of the state.

"My advice is to keep your family safe through the storm, make sure that you gather your emergency supplies, follow weather forecasts closely, and be prepared to stay put for a few days when the storm rolls in and the roads become slick," the governor said.

Cooper also noted the unusual nature of a winter storm hitting North Carolina this early in December.

"This is the kind of storm that you usually think about after the first of the year, but here we are, December 7th, and we're talking about more than a foot of snow in many parts of our state," he said. "That's unusual and significant, but we have to be ready for it."

Charlotte has only seen December snow twice in the last decade - once in 2010, and again on Dec. 8 of last year, when Mecklenburg County saw less than an inch.

Treacherous roads are the greatest concern

At Friday's press briefing, emergency officials warned that slick roadways were a top concern. As of 7 a.m. Friday, some 276 trucks had spread 205,000 gallons of salt brine on roads across the state, and an additional 80 trucks were conducting plowing operations and placing 1,750 tons of salt in the western mountains and higher elevations were snow fell earlier in the week.

Secretary of Transportation Jim Trogden said more workers were on standby to help once the storm hits. He said more than 3,000 employees and 2,400 trucks were at the ready, all equipped with plows and spreaders and an additional 135,000 tons of salt.

At a news conference Friday afternoon, a representative for the Charlotte Department of Transportation said 37 city trucks would be deployed around the city, and all 200 members of the department would remain on call through the weekend.

The Charlotte-Douglas International Airport, meanwhile, is preparing for possible deplays. Multiple airlines have issued travel advisories.