First winter storm of the season? What to expect this weekend

WSET

Confidence is increasing in the Winter Storm forecast for this weekend. After looking at two different scenarios, the heavy snow scenario is becoming more probable for the ABC-13 area.

Here are a few observations I have about the possible Winter Storm in Virginia.

  • The precipitation begins Saturday night/Sunday morning when temperatures are already colder. This means less melting during the onset of precipitation compared to daylight arriving storms.
  • Most, it not all, of our precipitation would fall as snow (unless the center of the storm moves closer to us.)
  • The heaviest snow typically falls 100 to 200 miles north of the center of the Low (the middle of the circulation of the Winter Storm.) This Low is favoring a track across North Carolina, which puts us within that swath of heavier snow.
  • As this storm will be moving WSW to ENE or W to E (instead of S to N), the precipitation will have a sharper cut-off than most systems—this means a bigger range (from north to south) of snow totals over a small distance.
  • A primary difference in the two computer models, is that scenario #1 takes into account current data. The computer forecast for scenario #2 does not (Current data is estimated.) As of right now, the storm is over the Pacific Ocean where there are few weather sensors, so the current data being pulled into model #1 is more prone to larger errors due to more limited sampling (compared to an inland storm.)
  • While scenario #2 shows crazy totals in the mountains near 18", I’m inclined to say that it’s actually more likely to be accurate than #1 at this time.
  • My gut feeling? 6" to 12" snow amounts are most common across the ABC-13 area. This includes Lynchburg, Southside and Roanoke. Totals gradually drop toward zero toward Northern Virginia. The mountains of SW Virginia (Wytheville area for example) would receive over 1 foot.

Stay tuned. Right now, totals are just speculations.

But. If you have plans/travels scheduled for Sunday, I would try to get it done by Saturday—it’s increasingly like that we’ll receive our first Winter Storm of the season.

– George

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