By Kathryn Prociv
This time tomorrow, it will finally feel like fall. In fact, it may feel like we went straight from summer to winter skipping fall altogether. The culprit? A strong cold front. As discussed in yesterday’s blog post, we will be impacted by a cold front that has been marching across the country over the past several days. It finally arrives today, bringing colder temperatures, gusty northwest winds, and drier air. The timeline of the front looks to be between 11am and 2pm for the New River and Roanoke Valleys, and will be completely through Southside by 5pm. Image shows current temperatures around 10am where you can clearly pick out the location of the front. Don’t expect too much precipitation with the passing of the front, however, as it is fairly dry and lacking upper-air support to generate enough lift for precipitation. Nonetheless pay attention to the passing of the front: you should notice an increase in cloud cover and feel the winds pick up and switch directions around to the northwest. Not to mention a drop in temperatures! I saw a report on Twitter this morning that at around 10am it was 41 degrees in Columbus, OH and 66 degrees in Roanoke.
As the title suggests, this cold front will live up to its name. Sure we’ve had a few cold fronts swing through over the last couple weeks, but none really brought a dramatic temperature decrease. Get ready, because this one will pack a punch. It will pack such a punch that I’m going to mention the s-word. S-N-O-W. (Kevin what have you done leaving me to mention the first possibility of snow?!) Before you get too excited, I’m not entirely convinced that snowflakes will fly. However, I still think it’s worth mentioning. Tomorrow looks to be very wet in our area. Check out the HPC forecasted precipitation totals for this morning through Monday morning. Now the real question will be: will the coldest air line up with the precipitation? Models are conflicting a little bit regarding how far south the cold air will surge, i.e. that 0-degree Celsius line at 850mb that will support snow. The NAM model is slightly colder than the GFS (pictured) showing that freezing line hovering just north of our area tomorrow afternoon. Here’s a snippet from the Blacksburg NWS area forecast discussion this morning: “850MB TEMPS DO DROP INTO THE -2C RANGE SUN ACROSS THIS REGION…BUT CURRENT THINKING IS THAT THE DEPTH OF THE COLD AIR WILL NOT BE SUFFICIENT TO SUPPORT ICE CRYSTAL GROWTH TO ANY EXTENT. THUS…HAVE NOT INCLUDED ANY MENTION OF S- AT THIS POINT.” Like me, they are not convinced flakes will fly. However, my final take: IF (a BIG if) there are snowflakes tomorrow, I think they will be very isolated in nature and at the higher elevations (above 3,000ft) of West Virginia, Pocahontas, Bath, and Highland counties so north of our region. Further north is also where there will be more upper air support to possibly incite enough lift to generate some snowflakes.
Conclusion: Break out your umbrellas and winter coats because tomorrow looks wet and cold. Tomorrow should be a great day for indoor activities, such as watching football, and a hot soup kind of day. Monday morning could see frost, so plan accordingly for any outdoor plants. I’m ready for the onslaught: the S-word has been served!