ROANOKE, Va. – We have been tracking this developing storm system for about the last week. The closer we get to the event, the more fine-tuned our forecast can become. That's especially the case as balloons get launched into the system on the west coast.
1. This is not the same storm as what happened on December 9. That storm was more well-developed, whereas this one is a spread-out/open system.
2. Precipitation won't only fall as snow, especially south of 460. That's especially the case if the storm tracks a touch farther north. It could usher in warmer air above the surface, resulting in a wintry mix. If colder air dominates and the storm goes a touch south, then snow totals can increase along and south of 460.
3. There's a lot of dry air at the beginning of the storm, meaning that most of what we see likely won't start until late Saturday or Saturday night.
3. That's part of what makes the forecast tricky. We're putting out our initial snow map. Some changes are possible, depending on the exact track of the system and the amount of dry air present.
First-Call Snow Map
Cold air usually lingers in this kind of pattern along and north of 460, which results in higher forecast snow totals from Roanoke to Lynchburg, Botetourt to Rockbridge and the Highlands. Some mixing of freezing rain is possible Sunday morning, which would cut down snow totals in areas south of 460.
General Storm Timeline
Due to the dry air Friday and Saturday, most precipitation starts Saturday evening or night, with heavier precipitation coming in overnight into Sunday morning. As the system passes, light snow/flurries will continue through Sunday and into Monday.