Ol’ Man Winter is set to visit the northern Cumberland Plateau again on Friday, and he could bring with him the region’s third light snowfall in a span of eight days.
So far, no watches or advisories have been posted for the plateau region by the National Weather Service. But meteorologists’ confidence is increasing that minor accumulations will occur Friday night and Saturday.
The NWS in Morristown said in its Hazardous Weather Outlook Thursday afternoon that up to two inches of snow will be possible for areas above 3,000 ft. in elevation. That would not include the residential areas of the plateau; only the highest peaks of the Cumberland Mountains. However, light snow accumulations are possible for the rest of the plateau.
“Numerous snow showers are expected Saturday and Saturday evening across much of East Tennessee,” the NWS said in the Hazardous Weather Outlook.
The NWS in Nashville is a bit more bullish on snow chances Friday night, calling for 1 to 2 inches of accumulation for the entire plateau region. In a Special Weather Statement published Thursday afternoon, NWS-Nashville said that “confidence is increasing in snowfall accumulations across Middle Tennessee beginning Friday night, continuing through the day on Saturday, before ending across the Upper Cumberland region Saturday evening.”
It appears likely that a Winter Weather Advisory will be issued for the northern plateau either early Friday morning or Friday afternoon.
The precipitation is associated with a cold front that is expected to pass through the region later Thursday night. The snow that falls will be convective in nature, meaning that precipitation rates could be moderate to heavy at times. Also, accumulation from convective snow showers is difficult to pinpoint. Areas that wind up under heavier bands of snow will receive more accumulation than other areas that are relatively close by.
One reliable weather model, the GFS, is showing 3 to 4 inches of snow accumulation for the northern plateau region. However, it is a bit of an outlier; other models are showing generally an inch or so of accumulation. The usually reliable HRRR short-range model is showing 1 to 2 inches of snow accumulation.
Helping to determine how much snow accumulation — if any — occurs is the timing of the system. The snow showers will likely occur through the day on Saturday, which should help limit accumulation somewhat, particularly on roadways, due to the impact of the sun even though it’ll be blanketed by clouds. However, if snow showers are heavy enough, road conditions can still deteriorate during the day Saturday. It’s unlikely that temperatures will warm much above freezing even during the middle of the day.
Further out, another quick round of snow showers is possible late Sunday and early Monday as a weak clipper system races through the region. Some minor accumulations could result from that system, as well, but uncertainty is significant.
After a cold weekend, weather models are depicting a warm-up beginning the middle of next week before colder air returns late in the month. In fact, high temperatures could push 60 degrees within a week.
Before Friday night’s snow chances begin, there’s a 60% chance of rain changing to snow Thursday night into Friday morning.
Friday night’s snowfall chances should not have any impact on high school basketball games that have been scheduled.