Tracking TWO snow chances

Posted at 1:25 PM, Jan 20, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-20 14:50:20-05

Snow Chance #1

(Click the graphics to enlarge)

An upper level system moving into the Mid-Atlantic today will bring us a chance for snow tonight. This systems brought snow to parts of Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee today as it moves east.

Expect snow to move in for us around 8 :00 PM, starting inland and sliding east toward the coastline by 11:00 PM. Snow showers will move out during the overnight hours. Here is a snapshot of VIPIRcast as the snow showers move in this evening.

Snow accumulation for this system will be relatively low, for two reasons. This is not a very powerful or large system so overall moisture is limited. Also, the lower atmosphere is dry. (You make have noticed your hands have felt really dry over the past few days.) As the snowflakes fall tonight, especially early on, the snow will evaporate as it falls through the dry air.

Expect a dusting to 0.5" of accumulation tonight. I know it doesn't sound like much but it is enough to cause some potentially slick roads overnight and early Thursday.

Snow Chance #2

This is the system that you have probably seen all over the web and social media over the past several days. An area of low pressure will move over the Carolinas Friday and near the VA coast Saturday. This system has the potential to be a HUG E snow maker for parts of the region.


We will start to see precipitation from this system moving in Friday morning, starting inland and building NE. Rain, sleet and snow are all possible through most of Friday and Saturday.

Notice the location of snow, mix and rain moving in by 9:00 AM Friday.

By 6:00 PM Friday precipitation has moved in over all of Hampton Roads and NE NC.

By 6:00 AM Saturday the low is moving over Eastern NC, continuing to bring rain, sleet and snow to most of VA and NC. We are watching the back half of this system. As the low moves off of the coastline we could see snow wrap in behind. That would give us another shot of snow Saturday night and even into early Sunday as the system exits.

Notice how the line between rain and snow shifts from south to northwest. As that line moves the type of precipitation you see will change.

Rain vs Sleet vs Snow

We will like see all three Friday and Saturday.

Most of us will start with snow on Friday. We may see some sleet and rain mixing in along the Albemarle sound and the Outer Banks.

By Friday afternoon rain slides NW into the Southside, inland NC and the Eastern Shore. We will likely still see a mixture on the Peninsulas and inland Southside.

By Saturday morning most if not all of eastern VA and NC will see rain.

How much snow?

The movement of the rain/snow line will still dramatically change how much snow accumulation we see. If the line stays SE, we see more snow. If the line stays NW, we see more rain. We are still watching what happens as the low exits to potential impact snow totals.

As of now, it looks like most of Hampton Roads could see 2" to 4" of snow with higher totals closer to Richmond and lower totals near the Albemarle. The real "bulls eye" for this system will be areas near Charlottesville and Washington, where some spots could see 2 feet of snow.

The tricky thing is, we will see snow, then rain, then maybe snow again. So depending on when you take a snow measurement (pre-rain vs post-rain) numbers could change considerably.

And then...

The wind. Winds will really crank up around this low. Expect NE winds at 10 to 20 on Friday and gusts to near 30 Friday night. Winds will likely take a northerly turn on Saturday at 15 to 25 with gusts to near 40 mph. Winds will remain strong on Sunday as the low moves off into the Atlantic.

With the strong NE/N winds, we could see coastal or tidal flooding. As if the snow wasn't enough, that's one more thing we will have to watch for Friday and the weekend.