Heavy rain will pick up in earnest late Saturday into Sunday. It's likely central and eastern North Carolina will receive a generous 1" to 1.5" of rain. This'll help make a dent in the ongoing drought for the state as we're closing in on three inches below average in Raleigh for the year and more than three inches below average for 2012 at Wilmington. Currently, moderate drought conditions have set up in central North Carolina with sliver of the Cape Fear region in severe drought.
Our weekend storm is a complex system that'll have origins along the Gulf Coast heading up and off the coast of North Carolina by Sunday bringing our bout with heavy rain. It's when cold air begins spilling in behind a departing low where a transition from rain to snow is expected. The rain to snow transition would happen Sunday evening lasting into Sunday night. Snowfall totals appear to be greatest from the Piedmont and areas north of the Triangle where an inch of snow (or more if you buy into models) may fall. (Outside of the viewing area, just wait until you see the final totals from Eastern KY and West Virginia!)
What you need to be aware of is the idea we'll have a change from rain to snow on Sunday evening. While snow totals do not appear to be great, one thing is working in our favor to limit the snow from sticking around. Ground temperatures have been mild- thanks to warmer than average temperatures this winter and the lack of any significant cold air within the last couple of days.
With all that said, drivers Sunday night into Monday morning should exercise caution when driving on bridges and elevated roads. Temperatures drop rapidly Sunday night and we may not have a lot of time to dry out, leading to tricky travel by Monday morning.
There are a lot of moving parts to the forecast... Rain with a change to snow is looking likely, accumulations for central and eastern NC appear to be limited, but may close in on an inch. So, we've been waiting for our first round of wintry weather.... Are you getting excited?