Winter storm moves in on Western North Carolina

Photo by flickr user Tambako the Jaguar

Just a little more than a week removed of our sunny, springtime temperatures, Western North Carolina is in for a hard freeze.

Buncombe County Schools were operating on a 3-hour early release schedule on Monday, Feb. 16, and Asheville City Schools released a notice for staggered early releases at their schools as well. Many local establishments have closed or are closing as the storm rolls through the mountains, ensuring employees return home safe and warm.

With the early releases, store closures, warnings of severe winter weather and Twitter-users warning of #Snowmaggedon2015, Ashevilleans have been rushing to grocery stores all morning to stock up on bread, water — and apparently beer, according to a Twitter picture of emptying Ingle’s beer shelves.

Truth is, we’re under a winter storm warning until 7 a.m. tomorrow morning, Tuesday, Feb. 17. Hazards include heavy ice accumulations with light accumulations of snow and sleet. The National Weather service warns that Asheville and the surrounding mountains may see anywhere from 1 to 4 inches of snow, with ice accumulations “ranging from one tenth of an inch in the lower French Broad valley to closer to three tenths of an inch near the South Carolina border.”

As the system moves across our area from the west, snow and sleet are expected to turn to freezing rain during the later afternoon and evening hours. This system brings with it some frigid weather, which will continue to drop temperatures throughout the week.

Monday’s high is 30 degrees, and the low is 20. Tuesday’s high is 32, low of 17. Wind gusts for today and tomorrow could reach up to 18mph, and wind chills are dropping our already-low temperatures down another ten degrees. On Wednesday, we’ll start to see temperatures drop to single digits — with a high of 25 and a low of -1. Thursday will see a high of 13 and a low of 0 degrees, before the area (slightly) warms back up on Friday.

The NWS gives precautionary advice, saying that the “snow and heavy ice accumulation could cause significant travel problems today and tonight. Heavy ice accumulations may result in falling trees and power lines … resulting in at least scattered power outages.

“Heavy accumulations of ice and snow on trees and power lines often cause electrical outages,” the report later explains. “When a Winter Storm Warning for significant ice or snow accumulations is issued for your location, take immediate steps to prepare for any power outages. These steps might include locating flashlights, lanterns and portable radios so that they are easily accessible if the power goes out. Check that they have fresh batteries. … Also, be very cautious about using candles as a light source since they can easily tip over and start a fire.”

The NWS also warns that when using back-up generators, make sure the generator is outside, in a well-ventilated area. Residents in higher elevations (or isolated roads that may become especially icy during the storm) are advised to stock up on canned food, prescriptions and any other necessary household items before the storm worsens.

Stay safe, WNC, and have a happy snow day. Remember to tweet weather-related updates using #avlwx and #avlsnomg.

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About Hayley Benton
Current freelance journalist and artist. Former culture/entertainment reporter at the Asheville Citizen-Times and former news reporter at Mountain Xpress. Also a coffee drinker, bad photographer, teller of stupid jokes and maker-upper of words. I can be reached at hayleyebenton [at] gmail.com. Follow me @HayleyTweeet

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