Raleigh, N.C. — Parts of central and western North Carolina could see frozen precipitation for the first time this season Friday night and early Saturday as moisture from the Atlantic Ocean combines with bitterly cold temperatures.
The National Weather Service issued a freezing rain advisory for much of the Triangle, including Wake, Durham, Johnston and Orange counties, from 7 p.m. Friday through 9 a.m. Saturday.
Light freezing rain could begin falling late Friday night or during the early morning hours on Saturday before changing over to rain as it moves out of the area. Accumulations will be extremely light but could create slick conditions on bridges, overpasses and some sidewalks.
“In terms of it falling, it would mainly be between midnight and 6 a.m, and it will likely be freezing sprinkles,” WRAL Chief Meteorologist Greg Fishel said. “The problem is if you are driving and hit any of that, it can be a big deal. That’s why the advisory is out. I certainly don’t want anyone to think we’ll have to worry about power outages because it will be a very light event.”
“While accumulations of freezing rain will likely be very light, it doesn’t take much ice on a bridge or road to cause problems,” WRAL meteorologist Nate Johnson said.
Temperatures were in the upper 20s and low 30s across much of the region Friday evening, and they’re expected to remain frigid overnight.
Because of the extreme cold and dry air at the surface, Johnson said he doesn’t expect any freezing precipitation to reach the ground until between 10 and 11 p.m. Friday.
Road crews in Wake County will be applying brine to different locations on Friday to head off any potential problems. County officials said the brine will be applied at Interstate 540 and Interstate 40 and the ramps by Raleigh-Durham International Airport.
Bridges on I-40 and I-85 in Durham County will be treated, as well.
Overnight crews in Durham, Franklin and Wake counties will be on standby to spot treat trouble areas. Once the sun rises on Saturday, though, it will be warm enough to erase any of the potential slickness.
“As we get towards daybreak, the precipitation will be gone and temperatures should warm up, so it’s going to be a brief period overnight until 4 or 5 a.m,” WRAL meteorologist Mike Maze said. “By tomorrow afternoon, if we have enough sunshine, we could get up to 60 degrees.”
Fishel said that there is some uncertainty in regards to this weekend’s weather. But it will be too warm for any of the freezing precipitation to accumulate.
“We’ll warm up well beyond freezing Saturday morning, so any travel impacts would be very limited,” Johnson said.
“During the day Saturday, we could get some breaks in the clouds, and if we get enough, it will really warm up quite a bit on Saturday.” Fishel said. “We know it’s going to be very warm on Sunday, but we don’t know how quickly it’s going to warm up,”
The temperature will continue to climb through the weekend, reaching 54 on Saturday and spiking to 71 on Sunday. But as quickly as the mercury climbs, it will drop again on Monday back down to a high of 37 degrees when a new cold front rolls through the area.
“Over the weekend we’ve got all sorts of wild temperature swings to look forward to,” Fishel said.
A special thank you to our friends at WRAL for helping out with this post.