I know I said I wasn’t going to bother making a snow totals forecast map, but things are coming into better focus now. Still looking like a minor event for the Richmond area, so I’m leaning more toward the low end of these totals for areas along and east of 95 as well as northern Virginia. Any snow that falls will be wet and slushy because of marginal surface temperatures, so I am not anticipating too much disruption to travel.
I have to be honest with you, this storm is giving me fits. Even as we approach “zero hour”, forecast models are all over the map (no pun intended) regarding the track of this system, and where the axis of heaviest precipitation sets up. Because surface temps in and around Richmond will be just above freezing, it will take heavy snowfall rates (to pull cold air down to the surface) in order to produce decent accumulations. And at this time, I still don’t really know where that will happen, other than western Virginia around Roanoke to Lynchburg to Charlottesville.
Just know that there is the potential for some minor disruption of travel (1 to 3 inches of wet snow) around Richmond on Monday evening and Tuesday morning, with much more serious issues the farther west and northwest you go from RVA.
Just a quick update to say that the threat for wintry weather is still looming, but the timing has changed. It now appears that the system will be delayed, and arrive on Monday morning rather than Sunday, so this will be a Monday to early Tuesday morning event.
This delay, combined with a slightly more southern storm track indicated on today’s forecast models, allows more cold air to get in here before the precipitation begins, which increases the chances of snow even for Richmond. At this juncture, I feel most confident in forecasting a moderate if not significant snow event for areas from Charlottesville to Fredericksburg and points north and west of there, with a minor event for the Richmond area, and little to no snow accumulation south and east of Richmond.
Stay tuned, as this is still an evolving forecast.
As much as I wish I could give a more definitive answer right now as to who will see snow and how much on Sunday evening into Monday, there remains considerable disagreement among the global forecast models on the track of this system. The European model takes the system much further south and then further offshore, keeping precipitation away from our area. The GFS (American) model has been quite consistent in a much more northerly track that brings the storm right over us, but the issue is borderline temperatures for Richmond. As of now, Richmond sees only a light snow accumulation because sub-freezing temperatures stay to our north and west (from Charlottesville to Fredericksburg, give or take a few miles).
Models should start to get a better handle on this system this afternoon/evening and I’ll have an update tonight.
Models have been hinting for the better part of a week now at a storm system heading east this weekend, with enough of a cold air “wedge” (also referred to as cold air damming) in place over the western and northern portions of the state, to bring a period of accumulating snow or a snow/sleet mix to those areas (highlighted in blue).
Impacts on the Richmond area look to be limited to maybe an initial period of a snow/sleet mix in the morning before temperatures rise into the mid to upper 30s and change precip over to a chilly rain. Areas from the I-81 corridor to northern Virginia could see a decent snow out of this as colder air stays entrenched there longer.
Temperatures will return to more normal levels for this time of year, in the 40s to low 50s and overnight lows around the freezing mark (and just below, a few nights). For a change, rain chances will be slim. Only a 30% chance around Tuesday/Wednesday, otherwise mostly cloudy then, and mostly sunny the rest of the week.