The six northern-most counties in the South Carolina Upstate will be under a winter-storm watch starting Saturday evening as the Carolinas prepare for the first major winter storm of the season.
The National Weather Service on Friday morning predicted one inch of snow for Greenville, two for Spartanburg, and less than one inch for Rock Hill and the Clemson area. But depending on how the storm takes shape, the Upstate could see higher snow totals with more than 10 inches in the Greenville-Spartanburg area, according to the Weather Service.
The highest snow totals for South Carolina will be in the mountains of Greenville County, near the North Carolina state line. The Weather Service predicts a foot or more of snow for the mountains and into North Carolina.
The system will move into the Carolinas as rain Saturday, and slowly turn to ice and snow late in the day. But there are still a lot of questions about where the temperatures will be cold enough to turn all that rain into snow, WYFF reports.
WYFF notes: “The early weather predicting data shows up to a foot of snow in the northern Upstate and 3 to 6 inches along the I-85 corridor, including Greenville and Spartanburg.”
Areas south of I-85 could see anything from flurries to three inches, the station predicts. WYFF warned there could be “significant ice” along the I-85 corridor.
In the winter storm watch issued for the Upstate region, the Weather Service states, “Travel could become very difficult or even impossible. Road conditions could deteriorate as early as Saturday evening, with highway travel continuing to be impacted through early next week. Visibility may drop to less than a half mile during periods of heavy snow. Widespread, prolonged power outages are possible.”
Even the Columbia and Lexington areas could get some snow.
“This storm could be historic for some areas, but we’re not sure what areas yet. Any time you’re talking about a portion of our area outside the mountains seeing a foot of snow, that’s a once in a generation event,” Trisha Palmer with the National Weather Service told the Greenville News earlier this week.
Swaths of the North Carolina mountains, including Brevard, Morganton and Statesville, are expecting a foot or more of snow.
Forecasters don’t yet know where that line will separate the snow and ice from just rain, but much of the state from the Midlands to the coast can expect two to three inches of rain Saturday through the beginning of next week, according to the Weather Service.
In the Pee Dee region, forecasters at WPDE predict the rain will come in Saturday night and stay through Sunday. The station explains: “Widespread rain that will be heavy at times. In the counties mentioned above, there may be snow and/or sleet early before enough warm air works in to change it back to all rain. Once again, snow accumulations are unlikely. This system will be a soaker with 1-3” of rain across the area.”
The Weather Service posted a gale watch off the coast of Georgetown and north into North Carolina. The entire coast can expect high winds and lots of rain, especially Sunday, the Weather Service predicts.
Further south, the Charleston area is preparing for high-tide flooding made worse by the soaking rain, according to the Charleston Post and Courier.
Temperatures along the coast will be in mid-40s during the day and dipping into the mid-30s at night over the weekend, according to the Weather Service. The current forecast for the coastal areas do not show temperatures dipping low enough for any precipitation to turn to snow.