Let’s get one thing out of the way first — WINTER ISN’T OVER. There seemed to be some hysteria about this on the Internet, even in some comments on this blog, based on some forecast models and various discussions about how they have lost a potential winter storm (a very iffy one to begin with) late this coming week, how they show some milder air working in by this coming weekend, and the pattern may not be setting up for a big chill over the central/eastern U.S. the next couple of weeks. Arctic air is building near Hudson Bay, and, though it will remain mostly bottled up this week and perhaps beyond, it is poised to shift south fairly easily if certain atmospheric features set up in the next few weeks. Short of that, there certainly seems to be the likelihood of continued punches of seasonable cold, which can support winter storms this time of year, given the right storm evolution and track. I fully expect to be on here tracking potential snow-making systems multiple times before January is over and into February, something I really didn’t have to do til the middle of February a year ago. Whether we get the big blast of Arctic chill, or a pattern of multiple winter storms for a couple or three weeks, I don’t know for sure — I would lean “yes” on the first and “maybe” on the second.
This week’s snow meter reflects apparently lessened opportunities for wintry precipitation with the New Year’s system — weak moisture flow, and likely temperatures a little too warm — and the strong possibility there won’t even be a second system this week, followed by slightly milder weather into the weekend.
12/31/12 – 1/6/13
Chance of 1 inch of snow this week on scale of 0 to 10 snowflakes, 0 snowflakes for no chance, 10 for certainty.
Roanoke *** 3 snowflakes out of 10
Blacksburg **** 4 snowflakes out of 10
Outlook: It looked like it might be an interesting week, but some late data suggest that accumulating snow will be hard to come by this week. A weak low near the Gulf of Mexico will kick moisture into cold air tonight and New Year’s Day, but it appears the moisture will be meager and temperatures, once again, crawling on the borderline. Some rain, sleet and snow are possible, but it looks doubtful anyone will get an inch. A potential late-week storm system is looking more unlikely, and temperatures may warm just a bit by the end of the week. The coldest air in the world is pooling menacingly near Hudson Bay. It will remain bottled up there for now, but may get forced southward later in January. For now, I’ll pull back on higher snow chances for this week, and go with fewer than five snowflakes at both sites, once again.
Looking back: The slim possibility of snow and sleet accumulating to 1 inch that I mentioned in last week’s snow meter for Wednesday ended up happening at Blacksburg, which got 1.3 inch. But I only gave Blacksburg three snowflakes out of 10. As a result of going with fewer than five flakes and Blacksburg getting at least an inch, I incur my first loss of the season. Roanoke got some snow and sleet, also, but not an inch, so my three-flakes pick wins the week in the Star City.
Current records: 4-0 for Roanoke, 3-1 for Blacksburg.