UPDATE 8:30 AM: Winter weather advisory issued Roanoke and west for mix of snow/sleet/freezing rain on Tuesday morning. END UPDATE
After another cold morning with lows in the teens Monday (following 13 at Blacskburg and 19 at Roanoke on Sunday morning), temperatures bounce back to near 50 on Monday as the thermometer roller coaster continues. A new storm system approaches Monday night and early Tuesday. The main energy of the storm is going into the Great Lakes, so we’ll be far enough removed that precipitation amounts are likely to be light — mostly .10 to .25 inch, according to the Hydrometeorological Prediction Center, with even potentially a zone of less than that in the shadow of the Blue Ridge. The moisture that does arrive may overrun enough cold, dry air for a period of snow, sleet and freezing rain late Monday night and early Tuesday. As it stands on Sunday evening, the HPC is only highlighting higher elevation areas in West Virginia and North Carolina for anything more than a small chance of seeing .01 inch of ice. I wouldn’t be surprised if this expanded or increased a little bit during the day Monday, but certainly, no major ice storm or winter storm of any kind, nor a heavy rainfall, is expected Tuesday.
The storm system Tuesday will swing through a cold front that will re-introduce Arctic air for mid to late week — highs 30s to low 40s, lows back in the teens and 20s by Wednesday. A stronger low-pressure system moving from the central U.S. into the Ohio Valley by late week will again spread moisture over our region late Thursday into Friday. There will likely be more moisture than in the first system, and also a deeper pool of cold air. The chances of a significant period of ice or wintry mix at the start of the rain are greater than with the first system, but as of Sunday evening, it appears that blocking features to the north may wiggle out of place just enough to allow the low and a high off the Southeast coast to sweep in enough mild air aloft and eventually at the surface to keep this from being a long-lasting, widespread winter storm in our region. This is still subject to change, but that’s how it looks for now.
And that brings us to the snow meter, which I will post below near midnight (since it’s primarily a newspaper item, not online, I don’t post it here until the day of publication). I need a turnaround soon to save my season …
Snow meter, 2/18-2/24
(0 to 10 chance of getting at least 1 inch of snow)
Roanoke 4 snowflakes ****
Blacksburg 4 snowflakes ****
Outlook: What has been a difficult season to predict a week ahead of time since late December isn’t about to get any easier. There are two storm systems moving through this week, one on Tuesday, the other about Friday. In each case, moisture may run into cold air banked against the mountains, at least at the start of precipitation. The second system, in particular, has a strong potential to produce significant wintry precipitation over a wide swath of the country, including, potentially, Southwest Virginia. But that could be ice rather than snow. There is a chance that either Roanoke or Blacksburg will cobble together at least an inch of sleet or snow (sleet counts as snow accumulation, officially), either collectively between the two systems, or in one, more likely Friday’s. But right now, it just looks like ice, a brief mix, or cold rain is more likely than substantial snow.
Looking back: Ouch. Two storm systems passed through this week, as expected. One took the snow north and west of Blacksburg and Roanoke on Wednesday. The other took it south and east on Saturday. On a week when I thought at least one of them would probably deliver snow for us, and thus produced a six-snowflake rating at each site, I take losses. My season records slips below .500 for Blacksburg, and my goal of going at least 10-5 at each site is now unattainable at one of them.
Current records: 7-4 for Roanoke; 5-6 for Blacksburg.