If Tuesday is any indication, it may be difficult to tell by the blog comments the next few days that there’s any weather going on before late Saturday night into Sunday. And truthfully, the period of time until the weekend looks pretty uneventful, though that often means pretty good weather for getting outside. Highs are likely to be 50s from Roanoke south and east each day (some mid-upper 40s Blacksburg and farther west) . The only chance of rain is Thursday, although, just like Tuesday, it appears the greatest amounts of rain will split north and south of us, with the best atmospheric dynamics going north and best moisture going south.
Now, on to the weekend. Forecast models are still not agreeing on a lot of specifics, but as of early Tuesday evening, the general idea present on just about all of them is that a low-pressure system is likely to form in the Gulf of Mexico and move east-northeast or northeast during the weekend. From there, lots of critical factors remain in flux, such as strength of the low, exact track of the low, depth of cold air available, level of moisture transport, exact structure of atmospheric features both “upstream” and “downstream” of the storm in the upper air flow, and probably several other things I couldn’t immediately remember to include. The Hydrometeorological Prediction Center’s weather map posted earlier Tuesday seems to show about the mid-range on where the low is likely to be located by Sunday morning. This is a highly favorable track for significant snow in western Virginia during mid to late February given that there is enough cold air to the north for it to tap. And right now, that is one of the major questions I have about it — even if it moves on the favored track for snow, will there be enough cold air for a widespread snowfall, or for more of a higher-elevation snow with mix or rain down lower? High temperatures may well top 50 degrees on Saturday — there are LOTS of late February and March snows on record with previous-day highs that warm or even warmer, but it still could be limiting factor minus a sharp Arctic air mass moving in like this past weekend. If the moisture moves in during the late-night or early morning hours, as seems probable now, cooling may be quicker and easier, enhancing the chance of snow. Back and forth, pro and con … that’s the line of commentary on this storm system the next several days.
Right now, I’m convinced this storm is going to happen over or near the Southeast U.S. I think I need another couple of days to consider the likely track and level of cold air available. I will say this much at this point: This is the BEST chance yet for a significant, widespread snowfall in Southwest Virginia this entire season, though that’s not really saying a whole lot in a very mild, mostly snowless winters. And if it does happen — it will melt away quickly early next week.