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Storm Team 9 Explains: Late Snow Arrival - Greenville, NC | News | Weather | Sports - WNCT.com

Storm Team 9 Explains: Late Snow Arrival

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Yes, the snow finally arrived and covered eastern North Carolina  Tuesday night into Wednesday.  However, this winter storm threw a couple of curve balls leaving snow-lovers asking, “Where’s the snow?”.  Storm Team 9 explains what happened.

The onset of the expected precipitation was delayed for a couple of significant reasons.  The computer forecast models predicted the precipitation to begin around 7 AM near the coast and overspread the entire Coastal Plain of North Carolina by lunchtime.  The early morning precipitation began on schedule.  However, as the moisture worked inland, it encountered MUCH drier air than expected.  As a result, the falling precipitation continued to dry up before reaching the ground.  It took a much longer time to saturate the atmosphere over eastern North Carolina to allow precipitation to reach the ground.

Next, the Arctic air was in place over the WNCT-TV 9 viewing area, allowing temperatures to be at or below freezing.  Therefore, as the precipitation began reaching the ground, it froze into either sleet or ice.  To further add complexity to the forecast, Storm Team 9 correctly predicted a batch of warmer air to move in near the cloud level for a period of time.  This fact caused the winter storm’s precipitation to melt and fall as rain before refreezing into ice pellets (sleet) or freezing rain (ice) once it hit the sub-freezing surfaces in eastern North Carolina.  Once again, the computer forecast models predicted this “warm air intrusion” to move out by the afternoon hours and transition a period of sleet and freezing rain to all snow before evening.  However, this warm air was unusually difficult to move this time.  As a result, it took MUCH longer for the sleet and freezing rain to transition to snow.

As eastern North Carolinians observed through Tuesday night or awakened on Wednesday, indeed your Storm Team 9 forecast finally verified and met the expected accumulations of 4 to 8 inches inland and 2 to 5 inches closer to the coast.  For many, it was a beautiful winter wonderland with a healthy blanket of snow.  Although it was a very challenging forecast, Storm Team 9 was very pleased with end result, making snow-lovers very happy in the East!
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