UPDATED: Wednesday 1/19/22 1:00 pm – Olivia Lawrence

There is a new threat for winter weather a little closer to home this weekend!

So what is different from last weekend to this weekend? The answer: Colder temperatures. As of Wednesday morning, we have entered into a critical forecasting period, during which we determine where the freezing line will be and the type of precipitation we’ll see. With falling temperatures and widespread rain headed our way, we are likely to see freezing rain in the area Friday night into Saturday morning.  

Here in the Lowcountry, we need just the right ingredients for a wintry mix to occur. Currently, we are looking at a few factors that could potentially bring ice to our area. With below-freezing surface temperatures and moisture, you would think that would be all that you need. However, the timing, location, and the strength of this system determine exactly what type of winter weather is in store for this weekend.

Timing: For this event, we are focusing on whether the strongest parts of the storm will reach us before or after the sun sets. With the sunset, temperatures will drop significantly, from an already cold rain, and impact the freeze potential for what precipitation has already fallen, and what has still yet to reach the ground.

Location: All eyes right now are focused on where the freezing line for this storm will fall based on wind directions. Currently, different models aren’t in complete agreement, and likely won’t be until we enter the 24-hour window out from the storm. The GFS model has the freezing line just a bit further North than the European model. If the freezing line trends just off the coast, the entire Charleston metro area can expect ice, versus just the North Western parts of the Lowcountry if the alternative occurs.

Strength: The type of precipitation for this storm is very dependent on the strength of this system. If we have heavy precipitation amounts, it’s likely that the Lowcountry would see mostly rain, as mixing from upper level warm air would cause temperatures to rise overall. In contrast, if precipitation stays on the lighter side, cold air will remain throughout the Tri-County and widespread icing is likely. We aren’t yet in the time window for confidence in strength and precipitation amounts, making these the last variables that we add to our final forecast.

Current EURO Model for this Weekend
Current GFS Model for this Weekend

The GFS and EURO models are agreeing right now that the Lowcountry will be freezing just after sunset on Friday and the Northern parts of the area will experience ice. The GFS has ice covering more of the area, compared to the EURO which isn’t as aggressive and clears out much earlier. 

If this system does settle into the pattern of an ice storm that moves far south, which we will know in about 24 hours, heavy accumulations of ice can bring down trees and topple powerlines. Even small accumulations of ice can be extremely dangerous to motorists and pedestrians. Bridges and overpasses are particularly dangerous because they freeze before other surfaces.

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Tuesday 1/18/22 3:40 pm – Grace Lowe

There is a new threat for winter weather a little closer to home this weekend!

So what is different from last weekend to this weekend? The answer: Colder temperatures. As of right now, it is still too far out to determine what type of precipitation we will receive. However, with falling temperatures and widespread rain headed our way, we could potentially see freezing rain across the area Friday night into early Saturday morning.  

Of course, it is all about timing. We need just the right ingredients for a wintry mix to occur here in the Lowcountry. Currently, we are looking at a few factors that could potentially bring ice to our area. With below-freezing surface temperatures and moisture, you would think that would be all that you need. It all depends on the strength of the storm, timing, and the location of this system to determine exactly what type of winter weather is in store for this weekend.

Current EURO Model for this Weekend
Current GFS Model for this Weekend

The GFS and EURO models are not exactly agreeing right now. Comparing both of these models, the GFS has more ice covering the area. Where the EURO isn’t as aggressive and clears out much earlier. 

The issue with an ice storm is that heavy accumulations of ice can bring down trees and topple powerlines. Even small accumulations of ice can be extremely dangerous to motorists and pedestrians. Bridges and overpasses are particularly dangerous because they freeze before other surfaces. 

We need model consistency and agreement before we can confidently say that widespread ice is in our future for this weekend! 

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