winter storm summerville wreck (web only) (copy)

A car crashed in Summerville due to slick roads during the snow in January. File/Bo Petersen/Staff

Put down the bread and milk. Step over to the raincoat aisle. The chance of snow in the Charleston area is next to zero over the weekend.

But — and you knew that "but" was coming — the farther out from Charleston you go, the more likely you are to see at least a few flakes of snow.

Meanwhile, the rain will be drenching. Some 3 inches could fall over the weekend, according to early reads by the National Weather Service office in Charleston.

A high tide Sunday morning could be strong enough to bring a coastal flood warning. The tide could reach 7 feet or higher by 9:30 a.m., said Weather Service meteorologist Neil Dixon.

That would be at least 18 inches above the usual tidal range.

The higher the tide reaches, the more flooding and damage it does. Tides at 8 feet can undermine properties as well as exacerbate erosion.

"It's going to be a very, very wet weekend," Dixon said.

Ah yes, the snow. Overnight lows will dip into the 30 in the outer counties around Charleston starting early Monday morning. If there are still showers the drops could get sleety or even turn to flakes. But don't get your hopes up.

"I'm not going to say it's a zero chance, but maybe 1 percent at this point," said meteorologist Michael Stroz with the Weather Service in Charleston.

A second slight chance at snow in the outer counties comes Tuesday at sunrise, when the same mix of shower and cold "could put some snow in the air," Dixon said.

Meanwhile, the mountain areas in the Upstate through North Carolina and Virginia will get a dose of snow.

December snows are unusual but not so rare in the Lowcountry. The earliest Charleston-area snow accumulation that the S.C. Climate Office could find came from observer reports on Nov. 21, 2006, said State Climatologist Hope Mizzell. That didn't do anymore than dust the city. The earliest snowfall measured at the Weather Service office in North Charleston was Dec. 11, 1958, according to the Weather Service.

Reach Bo Petersen Reporter at Facebook, @bopete on Twitter or 1-843-937-5744.

Science and environment reporter. Author of Washing Our Hands in the Clouds.