UPDATE 10 PM: Winter weather advisory now includes most of western Virginia. Snow has been falling moderately to occasionally heavily in the Roanoke Valley with some amounts nearing an inch in the higher terrain just south and southwest of the city. A mixture of sleet, snow and freezing rain is occurring throughout much of the winter weather advisory area.
Well, winter obviously isn’t over in the eastern United States. The early stages of what will become a major to historic winter storm for New England could bring a period of wintry mix to much of western Virginia on Thursday evening into Friday morning. A low-pressure system will work to our east on Thursday while another moves east over the Great Lakes. The combined energy of these two storms will blow up a tightly wound low off the New England coast that will lead to high winds and heavy snow — a true blizzard — in much of that region, with some 2 feet-plus amounts possible. Where we are, moisture streaming into enough cold, relatively dry air banked against the mountains, and rotating behind the coastal low, will likely lead to a mix of rain, freezing rain, sleet and perhaps even some wet snow at times on Thursday evening. The Hydrometeorological Prediction Center puts most of our region in the 50+ percent probabilities of at least .01 inch of ice, while also putting us in the lower chances of at least 1 inch of snow — probably snow/sleet mix, if it occurs,more likely to the north and west of Roanoke. Some winter weather advisories will probably be issued on Thursday, and expect some slick spots Thursday evening and Friday morning.
Rain is still likely early next week. A subsequent storm system near the middle of next week may be on the right path and have enough cold air to work with to pose a winter storm risk for our region, but of course, it is still many days out. Cold weather will likely set in behind that storm, whatever it does.