You will be waking up to a cold morning, with 5-15-degree readings in many locations, especially west of Roanoke. The coldest readings will be wherever geological features can shelter a lower-lying area from the wind and there is also some leftover snow cover.
There may be some chance of light snow on this Wednesday evening as an upper-level disturbance zips by. The farther north and west you are relative to Roanoke, the better chance you have of seeing some snow, possibly enough to whiten the ground.
I spent much of last week reminding folks about a southern-stream disturbance that seemed to be written off but ended up turning into a big wet snowstorm for most (not all) of Southwest Virginia. This week, I’m switching roles, continuing to be somewhat skeptical of a northern-stream disturbance that at least some have given a solid shot at a 4+ inch snow by Friday. I do think it will probably snow over most of Southwest Virginia on Friday, and many spots may get enough to cause some travel issues, but I remain unconvinced about a larger, more widespread winter storm. There continues to be some uncertainty in just how much moisture the system will spread over and into our cold air — the depth of cold no longer being the issue — and also about whether the system’s energy might jump from an inland system to a stronger offshore one. The NAM and GFS models from Tuesday evening illustrated my concerns, though of course, at this still early stage, I’m not sold on these being the correct solutions, yet. The NAM carves out a lighter area of precipitation at least east of the New River Valley (total NAM precipitation totals through Saturday morning linked here, and inset at left ), and only about a tenth to quarter-inch of liquid equivalent from there westward. That could still translate into a 1-3 inch snowfall, maybe locally 4 with possible higher snow:liquid ratio due to the deeply cold nature of the atmosphere. Far southwest Virginia, west of I-77, would see the most under this scenario, though some of that would also be from upslope snow showers that follow the initial wave. The light green farther east, roughly Roanoke and east until central Virginia, would be less than a tenth inch of “rainfall,” or likely an inch or less of snow. The GFS, linked here, is even drier. Also, there may be some tendency for the dominant high pressure forcing the Arctic air to push the heavier precipitation southward into the Carolinas. (Late information: The European model seems to be still on board with a widespread moderate snowfall [2-6 inches] for Friday. Still have doubts, though, about 4+ amounts, especially east of I-77.)
There is still plenty of time for this situation to change. The models have already bounced back and forth to several different versions, though many of my hesitations with this event are more about historical trends on similar systems, not what the models are showing for the near-future. Earlier Tuesday evening I wrote this Weather Journal column suggesting 2-4-inch amounts might be reasonable – and they still would be with only a slightly more moist and/or northerly-bumped precipitation swath than what was depicted on Tuesday evening’s models. For now, I’m thinking light snow amounts, mostly, 1-2 inches, for Friday more near Roanoke, maybe a bit more in spots New River Valley and west . We’ll keep watching it to the end, of course. It’s a setup that doesn’t scream “winter storm” at me — low-pressure systems approaching us from the due west, especially those of northern stream origin, rarely are big snow makers here – but could at least whisper some accumulating snow.