From the "Oh, Joy" Department:
Road crews are spreading brine on highways across the Charlotte metro region today, preparing for a chance of light snow Thursday night and early Friday.
Forecasters don't expect much, if any, snow to accumulate in the Charlotte area, but they say the precipitation will herald the arrival of another cold air mass -- producing temperatures this weekend that might be even colder than those we experienced so far this week.
By some standards, this week's cold snap in Charlotte is the worst in 33 years.
The N.C. Department of Transportation began sending trucks onto state and U.S. highways Wednesday morning to spread the salt-water brine mixture. That compound prevents ice from forming on highway surfaces when sleet or snow falls, and transportation officials hope the brine will keep roads safe when precipitation arrives late Thursday.
Crews in a number of area cities, such as Concord, also are pre-treating major routes today with brine.
Computer models indicate a dusting of snow will fall in Charlotte, although some areas could receive up to an inch. In the Piedmont, a mix of rain and snow is expected to arrive Thursday afternoon, changing to snow later in the evening and ending early Friday morning.
Forecasters emphasize that snow won't be the major story, however.
Another arctic air mass is posed to follow the snow into the region, producing bitterly cold weather through Sunday. High temperatures Saturday might not climb above 32 degrees in much of the Charlotte area, with morning lows Sunday in the low teens. Dangerously cold wind chills are expected Friday and Saturday in the mountains, where a winter storm watch also is in effect. Forecasters say heavy snow is possible late Thursday and Friday in an area from northern Buncombe County up to Avery and Watauga counties.
There is some light in this cold tunnel, however. Forecasters say they see an end to the cold snap by early next week, with temperatures approaching normal by the middle of next week.
In the meantime, bundle up.
The unofficial low temperature this morning at Charlotte/Douglas International Airport was 18 degrees -- the fifth consecutive day of sub 20-degree lows. The last time Charlotte recorded five or more days of lows below 20 degrees was in mid-January 1977.
More is on the way. Forecasters say temperatures will climb only into the upper 30s today, then fall to about 20 Thursday morning.
On Thursday, as the front approaches, clouds are expected to increase and thicken.
In the mountains, from north of Asheville up to Watauga County, a winter storm warning has been posted. That area already has received from 2 to 12 inches of snow this week, and another 4 to 6 inches could fall late Thursday and Friday.
The National Weather Service's Blair Holloway says that by Monday, temperatures will begin climbing in the region. Highs are forecast to reach the low to mid 40s, with even milder readings Tuesday and Wednesday.