The National Weather Service issued a winter storm watch for Friday and Saturday.
Forecasters said snow will move into the mountains and foothills Friday and spread into North Carolina's Piedmont area and into northern South Carolina.
The western part of the state could see significant accumulations between 6 and 8 inches. The Triad might see 2 to 4 inches, but the Triangle is in the transition area between rain and snow, with the possibility of up to 2 inches of snow.
"We call that the hodgepodge area," said meteorologist Brandon Locklear, noting that sleet and freezing rain were also possible in the Triangle. Areas south and east of the Triangle will get cold rain.
The Orange County school system says Friday will be an early dismissal day for all students.
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The NCDOT told ABC11 Eyewitness News it is preparing a brine solution, which is comprised of liquid salt, at a facility near Westgate Rd. in Raleigh.
Crews began treating highways Thursday, starting with I-540 westbound.
NCDOT signs along Triangle highways warn drivers about work crews and slow moving vehicles.
If ice and snow begins to accumulate Friday evening and into Saturday morning, the DOT said it will drop granular salt on highways to give drivers more traction.
Areas south of Interstate 40 are expected to get up to 4 inches of snow.
Up to 6 inches of snow is expected around Asheville, with up to 10 inches possible east of Interstate 26 along the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Meteorologists say a second, faster-moving storm system is expected later in the day Saturday and could bring another inch or two of snow across much of North Carolina.
Forecasters say the rain and melting snow could bring flooding across the state, with some rivers rising 4 to 5 feet above flood stage.
The Raleigh-Durham International Airport says it is also making preparations ahead of forecasted winter weather.
The airport is currently monitoring runway surface temperatures, preparing snow removal equipment and placing staff on stand-by to respond should winter weather begin to fall at RDU.
Airport officials say they recommend that anyone planning to travel through the airport over the next few days contact their airline before heading to RDU.
RDU does not close, but airlines make decisions individually about flight cancellations.