Monday is T-minus-1 day to the Arctic blast. With sunshine, some downsloping winds and a bit of surge of milder air ahead of the arrival of the Arctic air mass (the leading edge of which arrives Monday afternoon), widespread 40s and some 50s from Roanoke south and east will again be possible on Monday. Don’t get used to it. Most likely, no one in Southwest Virginia sees the freezing mark on Tuesday, and some locations west of Roanoke may not see 20. And temperatures may even glide downward through the day. Lows by Wednesday morning in the single digits and teens are expected, but it doesn’t look like the mother-lode Arctic blast will unload on us with widespread below-zero, pipe-freezing cold. Instead, we’ll get pieces of it from time to time — Sunday is already looking like another very cold day.
Friday’s storm system continues to befuddle. The lean now based on latest guidance is toward an ice/sleet situation (some snow) changing to rain (for some) as we get in the “warm” sector (above freezing aloft, maybe reaching the surface) of the storm with a low tracking near or north of our latitude. But plenty of time to change based on the track and just how hard that Arctic air holds. I have a hard time seeing it as either an all-rain or all-snow situation for our region, just based on the likely position of the low and the preceding Arctic air.
Ice doesn’t count toward the 1-inch minimum I’m rating for (though sleet does) so I went barely on the lower half of the snow meter again. With the same four-flake rating, I knew almost as soon as it published last week that I wish I had gone higher. I don’t have the same feeling this week, but Friday could easily cobble together an inch or more of snow/sleet mix at one or both sites.
Snow meter 1/21-1/27
(0 to 10 rating of getting at least 1 inch of snow this week)
Roanoke 4 snowflakes ****
Blacksburg 4 snowflakes ****
Outlook: This week is going to turn very cold, with subfreezing highs and lows in the 5-15 range (if not colder) by Wednesday. There will be little or no precipitation through at least Wednesday, maybe a few snow showers. The latter part of the week, once again, is when things could interesting, as there are growing indications that a low-pressure will develop in the central U.S. and move in some manner toward the East Coast. While many details are fuzzy, and will be so for a few days yet, it is usually difficult for the depth of Arctic air arriving this week to be entirely rooted out in two or three days. It appears likely that moisture will be flung into cold air late this week, but it appears the cold air will be shallow by that point and the track of the low farther north than what is typical for snow. Wintry mix or ice may be possible before changing to rain, and while an inch of snow can’t be ruled out, I’m leaning a little against it, so only four flakes, again.
Season to date: Told you I was leery of that late-week storm system. But I wasn’t leery enough to go above four snowflakes on the snow meter. And, the rules are that if I go less than five snowflakes and it snows an inch, I take a loss. Blacksburg collected 7.2 inches and Roanoke 3.5 inches on Thursday.
Current records: 6-1 for Roanoke, 5-2 for Blacksburg.