Update on Weekend Winter Storm

Posted at 5:25 PM, Jan 21, 2015

RICHMOND, Va. — The nor’easter expected this weekend is still on schedule, and aside from a few short-term departures, the solutions from the various models are still pretty consistent regarding the overall impact on Virginia.  I’ve titled this blog entry “Update on Weekend Winter Storm” because this will be a legitimate winter storm for parts of Virginia, but not necessarily the case for everyone.

Two areas of low pressure currently in the western U.S. will merge into one strong upper-level disturbance over west Texas Thursday night.


This upper-level low will create falling surface pressures ahead of its track, and will induce a surface low pressure center over the northern Gulf of Mexico by Friday morning.  This low will track across the Florida Panhandle, southern Georgia, and South Carolina, and will lie across far eastern North Carolina Saturday morning.  The low will then continue to intensify as it heads up the east coast a little offshore.

Rainfall associated with the storm will arrive in southern and western Virginia Friday afternoon, with the rain overspreading central, northern, and eastern Virginia Friday night.  Western and northern Virginia will see snow, with the remainder of the area seeing rain. The NAM model indicates a pronounced dry slot that could bring the rain to a temporary end for several hour overnight Friday into Saturday.

Here are a couple of  snapshots of the precip as it arrives in central Virginia early Friday evening and exits Saturday afternoon:

Zach 7 PM

Zach 1 AM

Zach 7AM

Zach 2 PM

The rain will mix with or change to snow Saturday morning across parts of central Virginia, including the Richmond metro area.  The surface temperatures at the time of the changeover will be in the range of 34 to 37 degrees, so accumulating snow will be tough to come by.  The rain/snow will move east and come to an end Saturday afternoon.  Some wrap-around snow will be possible, but again, surface temps will limit accumulations.

Here’s a look at a few of the operational model snowfall maps.  These are not forecasts, but simply what each model is predicting as of the Wednesday morning runs. The NAM has the most pronounced dry slot in its solution, and thus the lowest snowfall totals for the state:

state snow nam

The GFS is almost identical in its snowfall expectations.  I doubt that these two models will be as close together in their solution in future runs.

state snow gfs

The Euro is the most aggressive on the snowfall totals, but even if it is correct, winter storm criteria will only be met across far northern and western Virginia.

state snow euro

Here’s my very early first take on what we will see on Saturday:

Snowfall Forecast 3

Looking ahead to early next week, a deep upper-level trough will dig into the Southeast U.S. bringing us another brief bout with arctic air.  The coldest day will be on Tuesday, when many locations will struggle to get out of the low 30s.  Several upper-level impulses swinging through the trough will bring us a chance for light snow or flurries on Monday, but any accumulation currently appear very light.  I’ll revisit this scenario in future blog posts.

MG 500mb Flow

I’ll continue to post frequent updates every day on my twitter page, so follow me at @ZachDanielCBS6 for the latest facts, stats, and forecasts.  You can “like” my facebook page as well for a more detailed look at ZachDanielCBS6.  The links for these are below.  -Zach

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