Speculation ends today! We’ll see in a few hours how much snow manages to fall (and accumulate) in Southwest Virginia after days of rampant weather talk on this blog. (Thanks to all who have been a part of it, or merely tuned in to read some of it.)
At this late hour (just clicked midnight) the national radar (linked here) has blown up quite impressively as the upper level low, located roughly over Mississippi, is really starting to dig into some Gulf of Mexico juice. It’s quite apparent we are not going to miss that developing precipitation shield. The question is just when it turns to snow and how much of that snow accumulates. Forecast guidance points to snow spreading from west to east and from higher elevations to lower elevations through the mid and late morning with everywhere in the region snowing by 1 p.m. at the latest.
Looking at this ramped up moisture on radar, I’ve decided to stick with my accumulation guesstimates of 5-9 inches west of I-81 and above 2,000 feet east of I-81, 3-7 inches east of I-81 (below 2,000 feet) to Lynchburg and Stuart on the east side, and 1-3 inches east of there through Martinsville and Henry County. I think most of the amounts will be more toward the lower end of those scales, and especially in the immediate Roanoke area where elevations range from 850 feet near the Roanoke River to nearly 4,000 feet on Poor Mountains, amounts will vary quite a bit with elevation. It will start snowing early, and will stick better, the higher up you go. A few hundred feet can make a lot of difference.
There could be some extremely heavy snow bands that dump an inch or two in an hour. You can’t even rule out a clap of thunder or two somewhere with such cold air aloft and strong lift in an upper-level low. Whether your location has a particularly heavy snow accumulation or not, there’s a good chance you’ll see some heavy snow falling at least for a few minutes.
Whose forecast will be right and whose will be wrong? Some will fare better than others, but the correct answer is that every single forecast will be wrong on amounts, either up or down, for at least some locations. There’s just too many variables at play and inevitably some will not be correctly predicted by the weather service, TV meteorologists, private meteorologists, and even by a certain weather blogger, for particular locations.
Remember that if you comment about your current conditions, please let us know where you are.