UPDATE: Wednesday (6:40 p.m.) –> Wednesday Evening Update: Snow Moves In Tonight
**Update to Snow Totals… see below.
We are in the quiet before the storm today. Folks can get out and do what they need to do. Make preparations, wrap things up at work or school, etc. The snow coming in tonight into tomorrow will be enough to shut down schools and some businesses. This could last into Friday as the snow will probably not melt after it falls. Winter Storm Warnings are in effect for the area. Blizzard warnings are up for some. Let’s talk about it.
Right now we still have a large area of high pressure in the region. We started the morning with a few clouds, but also some very cold temperatures. They bottomed out in the teens and single digits. It was a little colder than forecast.
(will this colder than forecast air affect the forecast?)
High pressure is moving to the north today while a weak area of low pressure has formed of the coast of Florida.
There is a big upper level trough over the United States. This is scooping up that surface low. It will guide it to the north/northeast (offshore) through the day.
It will push some moisture up into our region, but it will take a long time for the air to saturate. So most of the day will be quiet.
The wind will pick up out of the east/northeast. We’ll actually pull some mildness in off of the ocean. So temps will try to rise into the mid-upper 30s. (above freezing). Wind will run at 5-15mph. By the evening the low will strengthen offshore. It will push more moisture into the region. We’ll have a scattered wintry mix for a time in the early evening.
There may be some cold rain from Virginia Beach on south for a while. This could easily mix with sleet and/or a few flakes of snow. However, it will be colder inland. As the moisture increases and the temperatures drop, the snow will start to be more common in the region. Future Trak has the snow starting up between 9 and 11pm.
After midnight the temps will drop and the moisture will be thicker. So we may see some heavy snow for a while falling across the region.
Temps will drop to the upper 20s and low 30s. So it will stick. The snow showers will continue from 2am until about 7am. It should taper off from west to east through the mid morning. By midday the system should move off to the north. During the afternoon the system will become bigger, but by then it will impact the Northeast states.
Wind will be strong behind the system. By tonight the wind will be out of the north/northwest at 10-20mph with gusts up to 35mph. By tomorrow winds will be out of the west at 15-25mph. Some of the gusts could be up to 40mph. This will create blizzard conditions in the region. We will dry out Thursday night into the weekend, but colder air will return. Highs will be in the low 30s on Thursday, but temps will only rise to the 20s Friday and Saturday. Low temps will be back to the teens and single digits. This means that the snow that falls won’t melt by Friday. This will impact schools and businesses.
Now let’s talk about the models and the snow forecast. The models have been going up and down, and not in a consistent way. I looked that the European model and the GFS model this morning. The European model has had about 3-4″ in its latest run. The GFS model had about 4-5″ with 6″ in some places. Here is our version of the GFS which has some lower numbers:
Our Future Trak model has been up and down. It is based off of the RPM model. It currently shows about 3-4″ with some higher numbers in a few places. 7+ inches in Wakefield?
I agree with some of the numbers, but I don’t like the placement. Then there is the NAM. Whoa! I looked at the raw output from the NAM (Just a bunch of numbers basically…no map). If you use a 10-1 ratio of snow to liquid water, then it comes up with about ohhh 13″. Now….keep in mind that the NAM doesn’t do too well with coastal systems, and this system will be totally offshore. So it wasn’t favored. This was even talked about in the morning discussion from the National Weather Service. However, their model increased this morning as well. So, I upgraded the snow forecast…even since this morning. So, here’s the update:
I have a large swath of 6″-9″ (darker blue). This includes the Eastern Shore, Mobjack Bay, all of Hampton Roads, and portions of northeast North Carolina. For now Williamsburg is in the 4-6″ zone. Gloucester courthouse is in-between the both zones. There should be less over the Outer Banks as there will be a mix there for longer…and less closer to I-95.
The totals are still going up and down a bit. I think for a few reasons. 1. The system is going to move very fast. If it moves even faster, then the wind will turn more out of the northwest sooner. There is some very dry air in the region right now. A northwest wind would create fast drying. 2. On the other end.. The band of snow could be very heavy. Typically the heaviest/wettest snow is just west or north of the rain/snow line. The models are handling this differently. It could cause the totals to increase if it lingers. 3. The dry air initially could dry up some of the first precip. 4. There won’t be too big of a wintry mix zone, but that will make the totals tricky near the coast. 5. Will the colder than forecast temperatures this morning feed into and change the models later today? A colder trend would probably let the low move a little farther offshore. We’ll see.
So with that all said, the forecast is on track for accumulating snow. It will definitely be enough to shut down most of the area, but the exact amounts are still in flux. We’ll have updates throughout the day.
Some of the problems we will encounter are blowing snow tomorrow, low wind chills, and possibly some power outages. There is a blizzard warning for tomorrow for cities near the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay. They are also for Camden and Currituck counties. With some snow on the power lines, possibly a little ice, and wind gusts to 40mph there could be some breaks in the power lines. The snow that falls will probably stick around through Friday. So prepare today. Make sure you have enough food for a couple of days. Prep the flashlights and candles. Get the snow shovels and salt out of the shed. Etc.
The finer details will probably change yet, but the overall forecast is pretty set. The timing is pretty set as well. Now we just have to see which way the snow totals trend. Stay tuned and be safe!
Meteorologist: Jeremy Wheeler