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Big snow expected Friday — but where will it fall?

Posted at 9:36 AM, Jan 19, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-19 09:43:06-05

RICHMOND, Va. — Let’s talk about this storm coming on Friday. At this point, it’s not a matter of whether or not a storm will develop, as every model has been consistent in its development, but rather to what extent it will affect different parts of Virginia.

This system will tap into a lot of moisture, and with that will come the infusion of warm air, leading to a broad region that will experience multiple precipitation types. Knowing where that all-snow/mix zone lines up is impossible right now, making any accumulations in that region equally nonviable.

I’m a big fan of consistency, both in the way I forecast, and in the models I choose to trust.

No one model is always best, but some have been more reliable than others over the years.

The GFS bought itself a little street cred by nailing the minor event this past Sunday, while others completely whiffed, but I’m not extrapolating much confidence in it into this next storm.

The EURO ensemble mean has been remarkably consistent, and the slight shift farther south and east was shared by the GFS after the latter had shown a warmer and wetter solution for central Virginia.

The OP EURO has maintained a believable storm track and intensity based on the position and strength of the eastern Canadian high and developing surface low over the Southeast in tandem with the upper vortex.

It’ll be a heavy rain event a good distance southeast of the surface low, and a big-time snow event north and west of the low.

The maddening part comes with deciphering everything in-between.

One to two feet of snow is very likely across northwest Virginia and western Maryland, and a swath of 6-12″ totals are very likely in areas farther south and east.

Again, how far south and east is the question, and one that no person or model can answer with any certainty right now.

I’ll have my initial forecast totals on CBS 6 News at 5 p.m. Tuesday after pouring over the 12z model suite. The system will begin to get much better sampling as it moves onshore tonight, and the model solutions Wednesday morning should have a better handle on the details.

Until then, we go with what we have high confidence in…there will be a storm, and a big snow will fall, it’s just a matter of where.