UPDATE 11 PM, 11/9: FIRE WEATHER WATCH ISSUED FOR SUNDAY AFTERNOON ROANOKE, FRANKLIN, BEDFORD, BOTETOURT, ROCKBRIDGE AND EASTWARD. Windy conditions and low humidity will exacerbate fire danger behind a dry cold front. I will post a new blog entry Sunday morning if this is upgraded to a Red Flag Warning. END UPDATE
The Weather Journal snowfall prediction contest started with a spur-of-the-moment thought for me in fall 2008, but generated more than 200 e-mailed entries. We have crowned five champions — well four really, considering Jamie Phillips of Southwest Roanoke County won back-to-back years in 2009-10 and 2010-11. Other champions: Austin Broyles of Lord Botetourt High School in 2008-09, Casey Preuss of Faith Christian School in Roanoke County in 2011-12, and Merle Spencer (a frequent blog commenter) of Patrick County this past year. Today, we enter a new era, with a new online entry format and some real prizes — a $200 gift card from Northwest Hardware and a sled. You may have noticed similar contests on Roanoke.com utilizing the UPickEm online format this year. You may or may not like it (and I know some of you will hate the captcha codes as much as I do), but it’s just the way we’re doing things now, rather than emailing them in (and the email system is different too, now, so it wouldn’t have been as easy to do it that way).
The contest is the same as four previous years: Picking first snowfall dates within the contest period at Roanoke and Blacksburg, and snow totals for the same. The contest period this year is December 1 to March 31. It’s a nice and crisp 4 months in across the bulk of the season when all but a few fluke snows (like last April 4, and possibly this coming Nov. 13-14) occur. DO NOT PICK NOVEMBER DATES FOR 1ST SNOW, or your entry will be rejected and sent back to try again (lots of folks have been trying to pick next week’s possible snow dates). The lateness of the contest starting was partly dictated by getting the new system organized, but we’ll probably stick with these dates in the future. Entries will be accepted on the online format through Nov. 24 at midnight.
CLICK HERE FOR THE WEATHER JOURNAL SNOWFALL CONTEST ONLINE ENTRY PAGE — Just click on “Make Predictions” on right tab to go to the actual online form. I will be reposting this link on every blog entry through Nov. 24.
This Veterans Day Weekend still looks really nice. We’ll rebound from a cold 20s/low 30s morning on Saturday for highs in the 50s to low 60s, and then likely even more 60s on Sunday. A relatively weak cold front arriving Sunday will take us back a few degrees for Monday, but there is no hint of rain over these three days. I suspect this weather will lead to raking (or a procastinated late yard mow) for many of you.
After a couple runs Friday showing no storm at all, the 18Z GFS depicted a light to moderate clipper-like snow moving through the region late Tuesday and early Wednesday.
Tuesday night to Wednesday appears to be the likely timeframe for any potential snow, as a strong cold front brings a quick but bold shot of Arctic air, and an associated piece of upper-level energy brings us the potential for mixed precipitation or snow. Forecast models, as per typical, are bouncing around a bit with how to handle the upper-level energy, much of it determined by factors far away and not thoroughly measured yet. But there are generally about 5 scenarios that could unfold for snow (or not) in our region.
SCENARIO 1, NO STORM AT ALL: The front zips through quickly and a weak disturbance moves southeastward, maybe triggering some light rain or snow showers, before going out to sea.
SCENARIO 2, QUICK-HITTING CLIPPER-LIKE STORM: A vigorous vortmax aloft triggers a band of mostly light-moderate snow, possibly beginning as rain or mix, that may get briefly heavy for a little bit, leaving widespread 1-3 inch amounts and perhaps some locally heavier ones.
SCENARIO 3, MEDIUM STORM: The pattern amplifies just enough due to high pressure in the Pacific and a possible blocking high over Southeast Canada to dig the vortmax farther south and west of us, enough to spin up a weak to moderate surface low quickly moving northeastward to our south. If this moved in just the right way, it could leave a trail of 2-6-inch snow through our area with some locally heavier amounts.
SCENARIO 4, BIG STORM: The pattern amplifies briefly to a large degree and the upper energy digs into the South, spinning up a strong surface low over the Gulf Coast or Southeast that moves up the coast or just inland. This is what was depicted most extremely by Thursday’s 12Z European model, with a 30+ inch bullseye right smack on our region. 30 inches seems ridiculous, given the lack of real juiciness you’d get from a southern stream system (this one is northern stream all the way), but such a scenario could deliver widespread 8+ or possibly 12+ amounts to our region. 1968 and 1950 are the only years on record that have seen such a November snowstorm in Southwest Virginia.
SCENARIO 5, BIG STORM, BUT TOO LATE FOR US: Like above, except the trough is shifted just enough east and north that the low fires and deepens quickly off Myrtle Beach or the Outer Banks, either moving up the coast or out to sea. Someone might get big snow out of that, but it would be east or north of us. We might get clipped with light-moderate amounts or missed just east (or FAR to the east or north).
Right now if you asked me to put a chip on one of these, I’d lay it on Scenario 2. What say you, Weather Journal Nation?