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Bands of light snow and rain showers are moving into western Virginia on this Wednesday evening with an upper-air disturbance rotating around the low over the Great Lakes. This is the kickoff for about 4 days worth of snow showers and squalls in West Virginia’s mountains and the ridges west of I-77 in Virginia, occasionally squirting eastward into other areas of western Virginia, as northwest winds lift moisture up and over the higher terrain. Total accumulations may top a foot or more in some of those favored snow belt areas of eastern West Virginia and the Mount Rogers area of Virginia by the weekend, with lesser amounts in lower elevations. We are late enough in the season that even an unseasonably cold air mass may not be able to hold temperatures in for all snow or for accumulations at lower elevations through the entire day. The best chance of seeing a random ground-whitening snow burst in the New River Valley will be at night or during the morning, while some of the snow showers might even become mixed with rain in the afternoons if they reach the Roanoke Valley and eastward, where partly cloudy skies may allow highs to reach the 40s. As of now, it does not appear a disturbance this weekend will do much more than enhance the snow showers a little more and possibly spread them eastward for a bit.
Next week could be a different matter, as a low-pressure system for the central U.S. is expected to track eastward with cold air held in place throughout the East. The map at left shows the Hydrometeorological Prediction Center’s best guess on where the low may be by Wednesday morning, having tracked eastward across North Carolina. That’s a pretty solid track for significant snowfall in our region, given the cold air, which does appear likely to be supportive. Some forecast model runs have blown this low up into a powerful storm just off the East Coast. That may actually not be the best thing for Southwest Virginia snow lovers yearning for a sizeable snow, as there would be chance the storm’s energy jumps over us from inland to the coast and leaves our region with not much. It’s too far out to really get a grip on details, but it does appear likely that some kind of fairly organized storm system will move from the central U.S. to the East Coast in the early to middle part of next week, with cold air still locked in by high pressure blocking to the north. We’re getting late enough in the season that any significant snow chance could be the last, best one for many months to come for many locations below about 3,000 feet in our region.