County law enforcement and emergency management officials were huddling Tuesday morning, bracing for what forecasters say could be a “top five” winter storm in the region, as forecasters issued a winter weather warning for the region.
As much as 10 inches of snow is being forecast over the next 48 hours for the area, with the precipitation expected to begin Wednesday morning, according to a National Weather Service meteorologist.
“What we’re thinking about right now in terms of timing for starting looks like around 10 a.m.,” said James Clark, meteorologist at the National Weather Service center in Blacksburg, Va., which handles forecasting for this region.
Clark said southern portions of the county may see winter precipitation even earlier.
The winter precipitation should taper off Thursday afternoon, but the meteorologist said from the start of the winter storm until the end, the area will see “fairly steady persistent heavy snowfall.”
According to the meteorologist, the storm could result in “significant” accumulations.
“It looks like it will be a significant event with eight to 10 inches for Wilkes and western Surry, and Yadkin and eastern Surry could see in the 10 to 12 inch range,” he said.
If the projected accumulations become reality, it could be one for the record books.
Clark said the last snowfall of 5 or more inches was Jan. 30, 2010, when Mount Airy saw 5 inches and Elkin received 7.4 inches at the official weather stations at each municipality’s water treatment plants. Elkin also saw 8 inches on Dec. 19, 2009, the same day Mount Airy recorded 7.5 inches.
But for extremes in Elkin, Clark reported snowfalls that came in at 12 inches on Feb. 19, 1979, which is tied with 12 inches on Feb. 13, 1960.
“If this exceeds 10 inches, it will be a top five event for sure,” Clark said.
County residents are encouraged to take the necessary precautions to prepare for the impending winter blast.
The American Red Cross recommends making an emergency preparedness kit that includes water, nonperishable food, flashlights, a battery-powered or hand-cranked radio, extra batteries, medicines and a first aid kit.
Residents should also charge cell phones and other communications devices in the event power fails.
Additional updates to this story will be forthcoming throughout the day.
Reach Keith Strange at 336-719-1929 or via Twitter @strangereporter.