Winter storm warning to go into effect Friday night for Charlotte area

The cold air has picked up in the Charlotte-area, and is already setting the stage for snow to start falling Friday night through Saturday morning. Forecast models now predict more than 4 inches of snow in and south of Charlotte by late Saturday morning.

A Winter Storm Warning will go into effect 7 p.m. Friday and will last until 1 p.m. Saturday. The upgrade from Winter Storm Watch to Warning means the storm is getting closer so preparations should be made in advance of the storm.

Winter Storm Warning - 7 p.m. Friday to 1 p.m. Saturday:

  • Mecklenburg County
  • Iredell County
  • Catawba County
  • Rowan County
  • Cleveland County
  • Lincoln County
  • Gaston County
  • Cabarrus County
  • York County
  • Chester County

Winter Storm Warning 7 p.m. Friday to 3 p.m. Saturday:

  • Chesterfield County
  • Lancaster County

Winter Storm Warning 7 p.m. Friday to 7 p.m. Saturday:

  • Stanly County
  • Anson County
  • Richmond County

FRIDAY: Another surge of cold air is set to arrive on Friday with temperatures highs in the low 40s for the Charlotte metro. It will bring some snow for the mountains, and we may see some light rain in the Charlotte area Friday evening, but as the colder air moves in, the rain will switch over to snow Friday night into Saturday.

FRIDAY INTO SATURDAY: The heaviest snow could start to fall around 3 a.m. Saturday. Any movement of the storm will make a difference as to how much snow we'll see. Right now, anywhere from 2 to 5 inches could fall. As you head north and west of Charlotte, there won't be as much snow. As you head further south and east, there could be higher snowfall totals.

SATURDAY: The storm will wind down shortly after noon on Saturday. Temperatures will stay colder in the low 30s. We are expecting some sunshine Saturday afternoon which could melt some of the snow, but that will all freeze Saturday as temperatures drop to the teens Sunday morning. This could cause issues on the road for drivers.

Stay with Severe Weather Center 9 all week for changes in the highly-evolving situation.

Winter Weather Guide: 

Watch Steve and Vicki give latest forecast on possible snow totals

SNOW UPDATE: Steve Udelson and Vicki Graf breakdown forecast models coming into Severe Weather Center 9.

Posted by WSOC-TV on Thursday, January 5, 2017

DOT trucks and MEDIC preparing for storm

Department of Transportation crews in both North Carolina and South Carolina worked Thursday night treating interstates and primary roads ahead of the winter weather.

Once the snow starts falling Friday night, crews will start their second phase of work. NCDOT workers will be back at work Friday afternoon to prepare snow plows and salt mixture.

A fleet of about 40 crew members will move to 12-hour shifts once the snow arrives.

After the snow builds up to about a half-inch, that's when workers will apply the salt-sand mixture to roads and they'll use snow plows to remove snow.

In Rock Hill, the city has invested in more sand and salt trucks to help prevent accidents once the snow hits.

Many counties in Division 11, which includes Avery, Watauga, Ashe, Alleghany, Caldwell, Wilkes, Surry and Yadkin counties, will apply de-icing chemicals ahead of the storm, including Watauga County. Others have salt on the roads remaining from last week.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg EMS officials said they had 61 gallons of ice melt, 192 cans of windshield de-icer and 100 agency vehicles ready. MEDIC also has two new ambulances equipped with four-wheel drive. All other ambulances have tire chains to help them drive through the snow.

“We get a lot of snow up here every year, so we know how to deal with it,” said Division 11 Maintenance Engineer Charles Reinhardt who oversees the eastern mountains. “As always, keeping the roads as safe as possible is our top priority.”

Paramedics are also ready to not only rescue drivers, but rush into homes.

"We'll see traumatic injuries because people will get kind of stir crazy by Saturday night," said MEDIC deputy director, Kevin Staley. "They'll try to get their paper, their mail, whatever. They hit their front steps and they're out."

MEDIC said it will be fully staffed but if extra calls for help start coming in, they are prepared to bring in extra paramedics and extra help at the call center.

(Click PLAY to watch Keith Monday's winter weather forecast)

Residents are also bracing for whatever this winter storm brings.

“I would say the ice scares me, so I hope that doesn't happen," Charlotte resident Ellen Hoover said.

The potential for roads to refreeze throughout the weekend and into Monday is also a big concern for officials.

The Highway Patrol is also beefing up patrols and warning drivers to stay indoors if they don't have to go out.

Local schools keeping an eye on winter weather

The upcoming winter weather has some local districts cancelling events in order to keep schools and families safe.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools announced Thursday night it will operate on a normal schedule Friday. But the district said as a proactive measure, it has canceled all after-school and evening activities Friday night. It also said all Community Use of School events for Saturday and Sunday are also canceled.

Union County announced all school and district activities are canceled beginning Friday night into Sunday. In Lancaster County, All after-school activities on Friday, Saturday and Sunday have been postponed, which includes practices and any activity involving travel.

A major wrestling tournament that was scheduled for Rock Hill Schools this weekend has been canceled. Rock Hill school maintenance workers said they're prepared to tackle areas that snow plows may not be able to reach.

"They could be scraping sidewalks, applying salt, brine or sand anything to make it safer to enter the building," said Mychal Frost with the Rock Hill School District.

Airport and public transit monitoring weather

Charlotte-Douglas International Airport said it's closely monitoring weather forecasts. It said it's working with its partners and is prepared to put a snow plan in place.

Delta and American Airlines have issued a travel alert for passengers, and said people flying out of Charlotte can reschedule their flight on Friday and Saturday without any fees attached.

Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS) anticipates that buses and LYNX trains will run on a regular schedule. CATS officials said they will watch weather reports to determine if/when the streetcar will operate.

CATS will treat station platforms, park and ride lots and other CATS facilities with sand and ice-melting products, but warned that some surfaces will still be slippery.