By Steve Lyttle
Snow is accumulating this afternoon in the North Carolina mountains, and the rest of the Carolinas is shivering in the first cold outbreak of the season.
Temperatures that are more than 15 degrees below normal for this time of year, combined with strong northwest winds, are making today uncomfortably chilly in the Charlotte metro region.
But the cold snap is more pronounced in the mountains, where the strong winds are accompanied by snow showers.
The National Weather Service said that up to 3 inches of snow had accumulated by midday in some parts of the mountains. Snow is still falling this afternoon, and a dusting is even being reported in some lower elevations, such as Asheville.
Record low temperatures forecast for Fort Myers
The cold temperatures, gusty northwest winds, and mountain snow are the result of a flow of unstable cold air being pumped into the Southeast by a storm system over the Northeast and a strong high pressure system. Chilly weather is expected to continue through Wednesday, and the National Weather Service has issued frost and freeze warnings for the area tonight.
Forecasters say the cold will bring an end to the growing season in much of the region.
Temperatures in Charlotte reached 52 degrees by 1 p.m. That eliminated a chance of today becoming the coldest day ever for Oct. 28 in Charlotte. The record for chilliest high temperature on the date is 49 degrees, set in 1976.
Temperatures are forecast to tumble into the middle and upper 20s tonight, then rebound back into the 50s Wednesday.
Warmer weather is expected by late in the week. Forecasters say Halloween should feature nice conditions, with clear skies and highs in the upper 60s. Milder weather also is forecast for Saturday, before another cold snap hits the region Sunday and Monday.
School systems opened late this morning in Watauga, Yancey, Haywood, Avery, Madison and Mitchell counties. The National Weather Service said that at 11 a.m., a number of sites had reported snow on the ground.