WLOS — There is a Winter Storm Warning from noon Saturday until noon Monday for Western North Carolina. Significant snow and wintry mix are expected in these areas, with most seeing 10-18 inches--but snow totals can vary greatly in mixed terrain.
At 8:27 p.m., as temperatures approached freezing, Buncombe County government texted that hazardous road conditions are being reported.
By 3 a.m. Sunday, around 48,869 WNC residents are without power as the storm's impacts continue.
The Red Cross has opened winter storm shelters in Saluda and Mill Spring. And yes, Jim Cantore has officially arrived in WNC.
Buncombe County and City of Asheville leaders held a joint press conference at 2 p.m. Saturday on the expected winter storm. Governor Cooper addressed the state earlier, at noon:
On Saturday afternoon, McDowell County declared a State of Emergency.
"Whereas, there is a high probability that the path of the storm will cause it to affect McDowell County within the next 48 hours; and whereas Winter Storm Diego is likely to be of such severity as to be capable of causing widespread power outages and significant snow accumulations; and further that such conditions may exist across McDowell County for several days; and whereas the weather conditions associated with the storm are such as to constitute an imminent threat of widespread or severe damage, injury, or loss of life," a state of emergency is hereby declared, read the declaration, in part.
Shortly after McDowell, Yancey County also declared a State of Emergency. Henderson County soon followed suit.
A Winter Storm Watch is also in effect for the Upstate through Monday.
The heaviest precipitation is anticipated late Saturday through the evening on Sunday, with snow expected for most in the mountains. There will be a mix in the far western counties and even Madison County.
Duke Energy advises via text that based on current forecasts, extended power outages are possible in the Asheville area.
The forecast for the weekend remains quite complicated with precipitation gradually spreading across the mountains Saturday morning with a mix of mostly rain but some light snow and sleet will be possible as well with mostly rain Saturday in the Upstate.
Snow totals will vary greatly from location to location, but for the areas in the Winter Storm Warning, most should generally expect 10-18” of snow, with isolated amounts of up to 24".
Most models now show the snow and rain coming to an end early Monday, but some is still possible into early Monday afternoon.
The forecast will continue to evolve over the next 12 hours and there is still a lot of variability possible with this storm. Stay with News 13 for the latest forecast and live coverage.
Bookmark our interactive radar page and stay on top of the storm's approach.
Below is the full press release Saturday from Gov. Cooper:
As Major Winter Storm Moves In, Gov. Cooper Urges North Carolinians to Complete Winter Storm Preparations
RALEIGH: Today, as parts of North Carolina begin to feel the effects of a major winter storm, Governor Cooper is urging residents to quickly finish their storm preparations, be ready for power outages and plan to stay off the roads once conditions worsen.
“This is a snow storm, not a snow fall. It’s serious,” Gov. Cooper said. “In the Piedmont to western parts of our state, we’re preparing for days of impact, not hours.”
Snow accumulation will be significant in many areas and nearly all parts of the state will feel some impact from the storm. Roads are expected to become dangerous to travel in many areas. Utility companies are projecting that widespread power outages could affect over half a million homes and businesses. In some areas, power could be out for multiple days. Utilities are bringing in hundreds of line crews from out of state to help North Carolina workers clear trees and restore power.
The National Weather Service has issued Winter Storm Warnings covering the mountains, foothills, Triad and Triangle. A Winter Storm Warning means significant amounts of snow, sleet, and ice will make travel very hazardous or impossible. A Winter Weather Advisory will also go into effect at 1 a.m. for portion of the coastal plain and a coastal flood advisory and wind advisory are in place beginning Sunday for parts of the coast.
Gov. Cooper urged residents to stay alert of the latest forecast as changes to the predicted snow or ice accumulations are likely. Minor changes in track can have a significant impact on precipitation types and expected accumulations in specific areas.
People in our mountains and foothills can expect the most snow with totals reaching more than a foot in some areas. The Triad area can expect as much as foot of snow and sleet. Charlotte can also expect significant snow and sleet. In the Triangle area, the current forecast shows 2 to 6 inches of snow and sleet. Areas east and south of Raleigh may only see less than an inch of snow or rain. Eastern North Carolina can expect rain, minor flooding, gusty winds and beach erosion to the coast.
“This weekend isn’t the time to head out to see the winter wonderland. Stay safe where you are,” Gov. Cooper said. “Getting out on dangerous roads could put your life at risk. It also gets in the way of first responders and road crews who’ll be hard at work trying to keep us safe and clear our roads.”
North Carolina Emergency Management officials are monitoring the weather closely and working with local Emergency Managers to help ensure the counties are prepared for any scenario. Gov. Cooper has activated the NC National Guard to help where needed and yesterday, he declared a State of Emergency statewide. State Highway Patrol troopers are ready to respond where most needed, and they encourage motorists to limit travel in areas where driving conditions become hazardous. Special teams of DOT, Highway Patrol and National Guard members will be staged near known interstate trouble spots, like Saluda Grade on I-26, Turner Grade on I-77 and along I-40 at the McDowell/Buncombe county line.
Crews with the N.C. Department of Transportation have spent the past few days brining roads and readying equipment to clear roadways of snow and ice. NCDOT is also monitoring forecasts so staff can start preparing for road clearing operations to begin around-the-clock. Since yesterday morning, crews have spread over 1.1 million gallons of brine solution on roads to prevent icing.
To prepare for winter weather, North Carolina Emergency Management officials urge you to:
Always keep enough non-perishable food in your home for 3 days.
Keep fresh batteries on hand for weather radios and flashlights.
Properly vent kerosene heaters and keep any electric generators outside and away from open windows or doors to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. Never burn charcoal indoors.
Use a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration weather radio to monitor for changing weather conditions.
Keep alternative heating sources and fire extinguishers on hand. Be sure your family knows how to use them.
Store an emergency kit in your vehicle. Include a scraper, jumper cables, tow chain, sand/salt, blankets, flashlight, first aid kit and road map.
Dress warmly if you spend time outdoors. Wear multiple layers of thin clothing instead of a single layer of thick clothing.
If you must travel during bad weather, emergency officials remind motorists to leave plenty of room between you and other vehicles and if driving on snow- or ice-covered roadways, reduce your speed. If conditions worsen, pull off the highway and remain in your vehicle. Don’t set out on foot unless you can see a building close by where you can take shelter.
Gov. Cooper encourages North Carolinians to check on neighbors, especially the elderly and disabled, and include pets in their emergency plans.
To keep animals safe during winter weather, emergency management officials recommend you:
Make an emergency supplies kit for your pet and include medical records, first aid kit, enough canned/dry food and water for 3 - 7 days and pet travel bag or carrier.
Do not leave pets outside for long periods of time and bring pets inside when temperatures drop below freezing.
Ensure your pet has a well-fitting collar.
Move livestock and other animals to a sheltered location with food and water.
For more information on how to prepare for winter storms, check the ReadyNC app or visit readync.org.