UPDATE 6:20 PM: The rain and freezing rain are rapidly dwindling in Southwest Virginia, and all winter storm warnings and winter weather advisories have been allowed to expire. Will post later tonight looking back at this event and looking ahead to cold weather and possible snow chances ahead. END UPDATE
UPDATE 2:35 PM: The winter storm warnings and winter weather advisories have been extended til 6 p.m. Ice is spotty now — if you’ve still got it where you’re at, you may get a little more, or at least hold what you have a few more hours. If you don’t have ice, you’re not likely to see any. If traveling, while most roads are just wet, be aware conditions could differ as you change elevation and location, and be wary of icy patches on bridges and overpasses. END UPDATE
UPDATE 11:15 AM: We are very much in the spotty freezing rain phase, with a few miles, a few hundred feet in elevation and a few tenths of a degree making a lot of difference in local ice reports. South of Roanoke a few hundred feet above the valley floor, my location continues to get ice building on trees and exposed objects, with temperatures hovering right at the freezing mark. (The 2-inch icicle on a flag at right is outside my window.) Most of the lower elevations in the Roanoke Valley are escaping ice, however, with temperatures of 32.5-35 degrees. Winter storm warnings and winter weather advisories have been extended to 2 p.m. as temperatures only stubbornly warm up where ice has been occurring. The push and pull of temperatures is very complicated in a borderline ice situation. Evaporational cooling pulls the temperature down, while latent heat released in the process of rain freezing into ice raises it slightly. Rain falling through warmer air aloft helps bring that warmth to the surface … but icy trees near the surface can help keep air around it chilled somewhat. Eventually, the warmer air moving in aloft around the low-pressure system will win out, but a few more hours of ice buildup may occur in winter storm warning areas of Floyd, Carroll, Grayson, and Patrick counties. There may yet be some power outages in those areas, but hopefully we dodge widespread power outages. END UPDATE
A mix of rain, freezing rain and sleet is overspreading Southwest Virginia this morning (latest radar linked here).Precipitation will likely cover the region by 9 a.m. Winter storm warnings for the potential of 1/4 inch of ice or more continue for Floyd, Carroll and Grayson counties, where temperatures are in the mid 20s to near 30 as precipitation moves in over the plateau-like areas of the Blue Ridge, the air and moisture lifted and cooled by upslope east to southeast winds. Elsewhere, with temperatures mostly in the 30 to 34 range, briefly falling at the onset of precipitation with evaporational cooling and then slowly rising as warmer air aloft gradually works to the surface, some icing will occur mainly on exposed objects in locations that dip to 32 or lower, with patchy ice possible on roads, and some slushy areas if sleet falls heavily. Winter weather advisories cover the region not included in the winter storm warning.
Temperatures are expected to rise above freezing by noon, except in some iced-in areas along the Blue Ridge south of Roanoke and some pockets to the north and west of Roanoke. Beware traveling throughout the day, as conditions can vary considerably within short distances, especially with elevation changes.