CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The First Warn Storm team is confident it will snow in the Charlotte area on Christmas day. The question is how much?
"We're not worried about rain anymore with this system. It's going to be snow. The question now is: how much snow and what time is it going to fall?" said Chief Meteorologist Brad Panovich.
A low-pressure system moving across the country looks like it could bring a white Christmas to the Carolinas. However, the timing of the system is uncertain.
Panovich believes the Carolinas could see snow as early as lunchtime Christmas day, but the bulk of the storm will move through the area Christmas night into Sunday morning.
“Here’s the problem. I’m not so worried it’s not going to snow, I’m worried it may slow down so much that it may not actually fall on Christmas day,” Panovich said. “It technically has to accumulate by midnight Saturday night to qualify on our list of white Christmases.”
You won’t wake up to snow on Christmas morning, but you may see snow on the ground when you head to the mall on Sunday to return gifts you don’t want.
The record for snowfall in Charlotte on Christmas day was 5.8 inches in 1947.
Forecast models vary on the amount of snow we might see.
"I really can't say with any confidence what the amounts will be because we don't know the track and how things are going to phase out," Panovich said. "Now, certainly, there are some models out there that want to make this a record-breaking storm. But you have to remember, it's only snowed three times on Christmas day. So, if we get an inch on Christmas day, that's a pretty big event."
As the system cranks up it’s going to dive to the south. Eventually it’s going into the Gulf of Mexico and that’s where things get interesting.
“It’s going to reform on the other side of Florida on the Atlantic coast and crank up and pull moisture in throwing it up and over the cold air over us. The closer it tracks to the coast, the more snow we’ll see,” Panovich explained.
Most of the models are going with the first track, which will bring a swath of very heavy snow right along the I-85 corridor. But if it tracks further to the east, it will bring the heavy snow toward the I-95 corridor.
“We’d still see snow with the second track, but we’re talking lower amounts,” Panovich said.
Later today we’ll have a better look at the forecast track and snow totals.
“Right now the bottom line is I know it’s going to snow. I don’t know what the track is going to be so that means we really don’t know what the totals will be,” Panovich said.
DOT to prepare roads
The state Department of Transportation plans to begin spreading a brine solution on interstates and major roads beginning Thursday. The DOT says crews will be on standby over the weekend.
Motorists are asked to remain safe distances behind snow plows and salt spreaders to give workers ample room.