An area of snow showers bearing a resemblance to a summer thunderstorm squall line is moving into the Charlotte region late Saturday afternoon, producing brief bursts of heavy snow accompanied by thunder and lightning.
At 4 p.m. Saturday, the line stretched from near Statesville through Davidson and Cornelius, and into Gaston, York and Chester counties.
As the line moved through Greenville, S.C., about 1:30 p.m., it produced 2 inches of snow. There were a number of lightning strikes and numerous reports of thunder snow.
The National Weather Service also reports 1 inch of snow on the ground in Taylorsville and Hickory. Numerous Twitter reports out of Cornelius and Davidson shortly before 4 p.m. indicated heavy snow was falling, with the snow beginning to accumulate on non-paved surfaces.
Radar indicated the heaviest snow was falling in Chester and Fairfield counties of South Carolina, and it appears as if areas just to the north and northeast of Columbia could receive a couple inches of snow. The system is forecast to intensify as it moves eastward later Saturday.
The snow is being produced by an intense upper-level low pressure system, the type that often triggers thunderstorms during the warm-weather season.
Shortly before 3 p.m., the sun broke through the clouds in southeastern Mecklenburg County. It was a sign of the unstable atmospheric conditions as the center of the low pressure system approaches.
The National Weather Service has the Charlotte region under a winter weather advisory, for accumulations of up to 2 inches this evening. Brad Panovich, chief meteorologist at WCNC-TV, the Observers news partner, says it appears as if the accumulations will be chiefly on grassy surfaces.
As the snow has moved through areas to the west, it has coated roadways with slush, but melting has taken place soon afterward.
Temperatures at mid-afternoon ranged from 34 to 37 degrees in the Charlotte area. Forecasters expect those temperatures to remain above freezing during the snow event, but the rate of snowfall could be heavy enough to overcome the relatively warm ground temperatures.
Snowfall is expected to end by mid-evening, but with clearing predicted for later Saturday night and temperatures expected to fall into the lower 20s Sunday morning, black ice is a possibility.
Linda Durrett, of the Charlotte Department of Transportation, said Saturday afternoon that the city will begin operating a dozen trucks at 7 p.m. Saturday. The trucks will be prepared to spread salt on bridges and overpasses, along with hospital entrances and any other areas where ice forms.
Citizens can report icy road conditions by calling 311, Durrett said.
The N.C. Highway Patrol was reporting numerous wrecks on Interstate 40 in Iredell and Catawba counties, west of Statesville. There also were reports of wrecks on Interstate 85 in the South Carolina Upstate.
An earlier band of snow moved through the Charlotte area Saturday morning. But the snowfall was light, and with temperatures several degrees above freezing, there were no accumulations. However, that same band of snow intensified as it moved east of the area, and there were reports of accumulations in the sandhills of South Carolina and North Carolina.