The high temperature for the day has already occurred in most locations across North Carolina. A strong cold front slipped through the state overnight and temperatures will likely be steady or only slowly rise during the day today. It looks to be a cool and dry weekend with temperatures running around 8-10 degrees below normal meaning lots of highs in the 30s and 40s and lows in the teens and 20s.
The forecast becomes much more complicated next week. The models have been very inconsistent with the evolution of a storm system early to mid next week primarily due to the fact that we will have numerous pieces of energy aloft that are difficult to time. We saw a rather dramatic convergence to a new solution overnight. This solution favors some light precipitation running out ahead of a main storm system into the southeast which could bring some light snow and ice to areas of the Carolina, Tennessee, and north Georgia Monday and Monday night. But the change is that the models are now bundling most of the energy into one storm that is forecast to form near the Gulf Coast Tuesday afternoon and ridge near the southeast coast or up the coastal plain Tuesday and Wednesday. If you take the models forecast track and precipitation literally, and I am talking about the 00z ECMWF and ECMWF Ensemble, the 6z GFS, and the 00z Canadian, this would likely be a major snow for the Appalachian mountains, east Tennessee, N Georgia, the foothills and perhaps western piedmont of NC, NW SC, and western Virginia with the central and eastern sections of the Carolinas changing to a heavy rain. Although most of the 00z and 6z models are now showing this solution, confidence is low in any one solution right now due to the complexity of the pattern and the inconsistency of the models. The main shortwave that is progged to spark the storm system will move into Washington state and British Columbia later today and Saturday, so we may see continued convergence and an increase in confidence over the next 24 hours. All I can say is that the odds seem high that some part of the southeast will see at least some snow and ice early to mid next week, but the exact nature of that and location is still very uncertain. Right now the southern Appalachians are in the best place to see potentially a heavy snowfall.
It seems to me that the scenarios for next week are either the scenario described above which would result in a quiet and cold end to next week and into the weekend, or a scenario where we may see two events one a lighter event on Monday/Tuesday and a more significant event Thursday/Friday. I still think that scenario is on the table. So needless to say next week looks colder than normal but the weather details are up for grabs.
It is interesting that the timing of the flip of the NAO to positive territory seems to be getting pushed back with each model cycle. The 00z ECMWF shows the NAO negative through the next 10 days, while the GFS and GFS Ensemble insist on a flip to weakly positive territory by early February. All models seem to agree on a strong +PNA and an increasing –EPO which will be enough to keep the southeast colder than normal regardless of the NAO phase, if the NAO does trend more negative, it will likely mean the cold air locks in for the rest of winter, if it is positive we will likely see a changeable weather pattern in February with at least the first half of the month colder than normal. The models are showing a block building in NW Canada which would send a strong arctic air mass into the US late this month and early February. Winter isn’t ending anytime soon folks.