Winter weather forecast to scatter region with snow, sleet

By Thomas Wilson

STAR STAFF
twilson@starhq.com

   Winter's official beginning may be less than three weeks away, but winter weather isn't waiting around.
   The National Weather Service has issued a winter storm warning for the mountainous areas of Carter and Johnson counties for Wednesday as the region braces for a winter cold front expected to bring several inches of precipitation to the area.
   Forecasters expect a wintry cocktail of snow, sleet, and freezing rain to develop Wednesday morning and become mostly snow by Wednesday night.
   "Sometime during the day you could have all three of those," said Gerald Miles, forecaster with the National Weather Service in Morristown.
   The winter storm was issued for Johnson and Unicoi counties as well as the southeast portions of Carter and Green counties. Wise and Russell counties in Virginia are also included.
   Temperatures are expected to fluctuate between the low- to mid-30s throughout the day keeping precipitation oscillating from freezing rain to snow, said Miles.
   Snow accumulations for the county's higher elevations of Elk Mills, Roan Mountain and Tiger Valley are projected from one to two inches during the day and 2 to 4 inches by Wednesday night, according to Miles.
   Weather Service forecasters predicted the county's lowlands would pick up around one inch of accumulation in the form of snow or sleet today and an additional 1 to 2 inches tonight.
   Winter storm warnings were issued for numerous counties in western North Carolina including Avery, Watauga and Mitchell counties. Warnings were also posted for northern counties of South Carolina.
   A winter storm warning means severe winter weather conditions are imminent or highly likely. A winter storm watch means conditions are favorable for hazardous winter weather.
   A winter storm watch issued early Tuesday morning was changed to a storm warning on Tuesday afternoon.
   Ice accumulations up to one-quarter inch are also reported possibly by Thursday morning, according to Weather Service forecasts. The problem could create hazards to motorists as well as cause a potential buildup of ice on utility lines, said Miles.
   "If you have sleet or ice, you get some on the electrical wires," he said.
   "You could have some areas of the road that ice sticks on that could be clear. It could be hazardous driving by tomorrow night or tomorrow afternoon."