UPDATE 6:20 AM: Many in the Roanoke and New River valleys and nearby areas will be waking up to a silvery landscape of icy trees this morning. There are several pockets of power outages in the region — nearly 3,000 in Henry County — though not widespread (more so in eastern West Virginia, actually). A significant though not historic ice storm has occurred. Temperatures are beginning to slip above freezing in many areas, so ice should be melting off soon. END UPDATE
Boy I hope this isn’t a harbinger for the winter weeks ahead — a frustrating, strung-out ice/sleet event in multiple phases and people debating whether it is a “bust” or “hype” or not. Likely by morning it will vary from location to location whether the ice accretion passed the 1/4-inch threshhold (already has for some) of the winter storm warning (and some may sleep through reaching that threshhold and then having it partly melt away). I suspect it will still get near 1/2 an inch at some spots that collected it well Sunday morning and continue to overnight and into Monday morning, and that will probably result in some sporadic power outages. I’ve been consistent here for days in saying this likely would NOT be a widespread historic, devastating ice storm in our region, and it certainly appears it will not be — but it could be troublesome for some people and locations. One reason for the variance in results will be that temperatures have already started to creep up late this Sunday evening as the advection of warm, moist air from the Gulf of Mexico begins to win the shoving match with the cold-air damming that dipped the mercury into the mid and upper 20s for most on Sunday. This usually happens a bit unevenly due to geography and terrain. Generally, locations to the west and south of the Roanoke and New River valleys will slip above freezing first, and then it happens much more stubbornly in the valleys and farther east and north. The erosion of a cold-air damming wedge often leaves pockets of below-freezing temperatures — in some valleys, trapped against ridges, and sometimes bubbles that develop for no obvious reasons — while surrounding sites move into the mid 30s. So by morning light, the ice may be melting away for some and still collecting thickly a few miles down the road.
The milder air should thoroughly win the day Monday, with highs pushing well into the 40s, some low 50s, and periods of rain.
Yes, there could be a scrape with snow on Tuesday, as new Arctic air arrives behind a front late Monday night or early Tuesday, and the last of these series of low pressure waves rides just south and east of our area. As of Sunday night, it appeared that areas north of Roanoke — the I-64 corridor, maybe the Rockbridge-Bath-Alleghany county areas – northeastward toward D.C. had the best shot at a couple or three inches of snow on Tuesday. We’ll take a closer look at this by Monday evening. It might be too early to “hype” that now.