UPDATE 10:45 AM: Moderate to heavy snow/sleet mix now at my location in south Roanoke County. END UPDATE
UPDATE 10AM: Sleet developing rapidly in Roanoke Valley. Heavy sleet at my location in south Roanoke County. Sleet changing to snow in New River Valley. END UPDATE
UPDATE 9:15 AM: If you scan through the comments below — there are starting to be numerous reports of snow and sleet mostly in higher elevations south and southwest of Roanoke as the colder air of the upper low is beginning to drain to the surface, allowing more of the flakes to reach the ground. Most of eastern Kentucky is now reporting snow as well. We’ll see how fast this changeover occurs over the next 2-4 hours. Earlier changeover increases likelihood of substantial accumulations. END UPDATE
The upper-level low and its attendant blob of moisture is at the doorstep this morning. The center of the low is down near where Alabama, Tennessee and Georgia meet — you can see the spin on this national radar loop link — and moving east-northeast, expected to pass just south of us today. Locations along and to the north of its track will likely see rain change to snow as is happening in central Kentucky now. It will change first in higher elevations and work downward, and from the west working eastward. Most areas in Southwest Virgnia will probably be in snow by early afternoon.
Snow lovers will have to let out a big sigh this morning that so much moisture is “going to waste” as rain, with the Arctic air having exited stage right just before this storm developed. Then, they have a difficult on-edge wait today for snow to develop and then begin accumulating. Working in the favor of snow totals similar to the 3-plus kind that have been issued by the weather service and guesstimated here is the likelihood that heavy bands of snow will develop, especially from Roanoke northward, when the upper low passes by to the south. Some thunder is not out of the question as the strong lift of the upper low mimics summer thunderstorm updrafts. Limiting accumulations will be, first and foremost, the borderline temperatures, plus the speed of the system moving through and the possibility that the energy eventually jumps quickly to the surface low on the East Coast, shortening the snowfall time near the Blue Ridge/I-81 corridor.
A winter storm warning remains in effect for most of the region except Southside areas from Martinsville eastward. The snow forecast issued by the weather service (scroll down to “Snow Accumulation Forecast” on this link) is so close to my own running guesstimate of the past couple of days that I will just use it as my map, too. Generally, it’s 3-plus inches most places except Southside, with a maybe some areas of Roanoke city a tad less because of slower accumulation related to low elevation and urban warming effects.
Your observations are welcome — just tell us where you are.