Icy/Snowy Mess north and west tomorrow; Snowy Saturday?
Good afternoon and I hope you are having a very Merry Christmas. For some of you it may have been a white one for those in the NW part of the state but in any case I hope it was a great one!
Let's start right off with tomorrow's storm. Here is a map which depicts what I think will happen tomorrow.
The areas in the light blue I divided it up. The dark blue areas, include Harrisonburg, Front Royal, Winchester, Strasburg, I am expecting the worst winter weather in the state, in the same areas that were hardest hit yesterday. I am expecting 2-4" of snow to fall in those areas before changing over to sleet/freezing rain. In a small pocket which includes Staunton and Waynesbro I'm expecting a more brief period of snow, where 1-2" could fall before changing over to sleet/freezing rain. Further south, which includes Roanoke and Blacksburg, as well as Buena Vista and Lexington, highlighted in orange, I am expecting sleet/freezing rain to fall the whole time. This is where the greatest ice accumulations will fall, where roughly 0.25", maybe more of ice could fall. This area is where I expect the CAD (Cold Air Damming) to take hold. Travel on I-81 tomorrow is HIGHLY discouraged as the roads will be very slick. This will be a significant ice event for those areas.
In the red, which now includes Charlottesville, and portions of NOVA, Manassas, I am expecting a brief period of snow at onset. Up to 1" of snow could fall before it changes over to sleet/freezing rain, but the best chances of seeing 1" of snow will be in the western piedmont, further east I am expecting a trace to 1/2", probably around NOVA. Once those areas change to ice there could be some issues for travel around I-64 in the western piedmont and I-66, as well as a stretch of I-95 through NOVA. They will eventually change over to rain as we head into Wednesday evening into the nighttime hours.
In the pink I am expecting areas such as Lynchburg, central piedmont, and Fredericksburg to start out as ice. There could be some minor issues for traveling for icing, but by Wednesday afternoon into the evening those areas will change over to rain.
Further east... I am expecting all rain. Now towards the end, however a stretch of south central VA, through Richmond and into the Northern Neck could change over to snow at the very end as the backside of the storm moves through sweeping down deep cold air, changing leftover rain to snow. It is possible but it depends on the timing between the precipitation and the cold air. If the cold air arrives after the precipitation ends then snow will be unlikely.
And in the yellow areas, from Danville, through Southside VA, Richmond, Williamsburg, Tidewater, Middle Peninsula I am expecting the possibility of severe weather as we head into Wednesday evening. Main threat does appear to be damaging winds in central VA, with the threat of tornadoes in SE VA. Could be a widespread tornado outbreak for central and eastern NC.
I have been heavily relying on the NAM ever since it has entered its range. GFS has made no sense, and as of 12z today it showed the valley going straight from snow to rain. That makes no sense to me because there is already some cold air damming in place where warm air aloft will override the cold air at the surface. As a result we will see icing in those areas. The NAM depicts this very well and that's why I am sticking with it, despite the fact that it has a cold bias.
Here are some of the watches and warnings.
Winter Storm Warning
Alleghany, Bath, Rockbridge, Western Highland
Freezing Rain Advisory
Amherst, Bedford, Botetourt, Craig, Floyd, Giles, Montgomery, Pulaski, Roanoke
Winter Weather Advisory
Albemarle, Augusta, Clarke, Eastern Highland, Frederick, Greene, Loudoun, Madison, Nelson, Northern Fauquier, Page, Rappahannock, Rockingham, Shenandoah, Warren
The latest 12z Euro has indicated that parts of the Mid-Atlantic including VA could be in for a decent snow Saturday. It would be all snow for Richmond and points west, and rain to snow for areas east of I-95 if it verified. This is about as close as it has been to seeing a good snow as we are 4 days out, unlike most models that spit out big snowstorms 7-9 days out and never materialize. I'm feeling really good about our chances. If the Euro and NAM (once it enters its range) both show it tomorrow then I'm in on it. This needs to be watched closely. There will be a lot of busy meteorologists tomorrow as we have a winter weather event occurring tomorrow.
Have a great day and Merry Christmas!
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