FREEZING RAIN ADVISORY THROUGH 10 AM MONDAY FOR MOST OF WESTERN AN AND CENTRAL VIRGINIA, EXCEPT WEST OF I-77
When warm southwesterly winds begin to take control from an Arctic air mass, a common result is a period of freezing rain. That is what Southwest Virginia may be facing late Sunday and Monday, as Gulf of Mexico moisture, pulled northeast by a passing upper-level disturbance and increasing southwesterly wind flow above the surface, overrides cold air at the surface banked against the Appalachians. A period of freezing rain will be possible late Sunday and early Monday, as temperatures at the surface may be in the upper 20s and low 30s in most or all of the region while layers aloft warm above freezing. This will allow precipitation to fall all the way to the surface as rain (maybe a period of sleet to begin) and then freeze on objects near ground level. Because we have been cold for many days and there have been two snowfalls (I’ve had snow cover on my yard for 9 consecutive days now, just a few hundred feet above and a couple miles south of Roanoke), the ground will be cold enough that the potential for icy streets and sidewalks will be high if the freezing rain develops. As of Saturday evening, large enough amounts for widespread power outages are not expected. The Hydrometeorological Prediction Center is, as of Saturday evening, giving mid-range (near 50 percent) chances of at least .01 of ice developing. You can link here for the latest ice forecasts from the HPC (potentially major ice storm in the Upper Midwest) and here for latest updates and possible advisories from the National Weather Service in Blacksburg.
As for the week ahead … this is going to be a truly volatile week of weather nationally, with a large-scale warmup (60s locally on Tuesday) followed by a strong Arctic cold front. Severe thunderstorms and tornadoes will be a good bet in the Mississippi and Tennessee river valleys. Our region may be headed for an inch or more of rainfall with the midweek frontal passage. There may be a few-days window as February begins that would support development of a winter storm in the South and East, though there are no obvious indications yet that this will occur. As I’ve said before, those who want the weather to get cold and stay that way and those who want it to get warm and stay that way are all out of luck, as it appears we’re headed into a roller-coaster pattern for at least the next couple of weeks with up and down shifts in temperature and potential large-scale storms that will deliver severe storms, heavy rain, ice, snow and wind to large sections of the nation.