Close low, no snow. That’s the way it works in the Midlands, and this week was a classic example.
The low pressure system that moved up from the Gulf of Mexico to provide the moisture Wednesday stayed close enough to the coast to pump a little warm air into the Midlands before dumping moisture, according to the National Weather Service. In fact, the warm air moved far enough north and west to throw off blizzard-like projections in much of the Upstate.
If those Gulf-born lows track across Florida from Tampa to Cape Canaveral, then the Midlands typically gets snow, said meteorologist Michael Cammarata with the Columbia office of the National Weather Service. This one moved over northern Florida and came closer to Savannah.
But the temperatures in South Carolina still were close enough to freezing to make the forecast tricky, especially considering how much precipitation was expected.
The forecasted totals of half an inch to 2 inches in the northern Midlands ended up being a dusting of snow washed away by nearly an inch of rain. If the temperature had been closer to 32 instead of 38 Wednesday afternoon, the center of the state could be digging out of snow.
The I-85 corridor ended up being the snow line, with half an inch below that line in Greenville County, 2 inches in downtown Greenville and 4 inches in the northern end of the county. The National Weather Service forecast for Greenville Wednesday afternoon had listed the possibility of 7-10 inches.
Most of Greenville County got half an inch of precipitation, according to reports from the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network. Whether it fell as snow or rain depended on the temperature. With the amount of precipitation likely to be high, the snow depth forecasts had to be high, Cammarata said. The general rule of thumb is one inch of rain equals 10 inches of snow, though that ratio varies depending on the consistency of the snow.
In South Carolina’s mountains, some early snowfall totals included 4.5 inches north of Travelers Rest, 4 inches north of Salem and 3.1 inches north of Salem. Just over the state line in North Carolina’s Transylvania County, multiple sites reported 8-10 inches.