ROANOKE, Va. – A strong cold front is blowing past the region Sunday, resulting in three things: 1) an increase in wind speed 2) a big-league drop in temperatures and 3) a flash freeze threat in areas west of the Blue Ridge Parkway.
1. Strong Wind Gusts
Sustained wind speeds Sunday will be anywhere from 15 to 30 miles per hour, with gusts landing anywhere between 35 and 50 miles per hour (occasionally higher in Hot Springs or near the US-221 corridor). This is especially going to be the case during the afternoon and early evening.
Given how wet the ground is after Saturday's rain, a few downed trees and/or power outages cannot be ruled out. If the power does go out, it will be a while before crews can restore power, due to the wind staying breezy through at least Monday morning. This is also a good time to weigh down any loose/lightweight objects like trash cans, trampolines or basketball nets.
Lastly, the wind chill factor is going to be a big part of our weather these next 24 hours or so.
2. Uncomfortable/Dangerous Wind Chills
When you combine cold air and gusty wind, you get the wind chill factor. The wind chill is essentially what it feels like outside.
Temperatures may very well drop below freezing in the mountains before mid-day Sunday, resulting in the chance of a flash freeze. The wind chill won't help matters, but won't necessarily be awful in areas east of the Parkway.
Around lunchtime, cold air will really start to push forward. It won't quite make its way to Southside, though, where temperatures will still be above freezing. The wind starts cranking around this time, making it feel pretty uncomfortable.
Fast-forward to this evening, and we are all well below freezing. Things are starting to feel really rough in the mountains, with not much relief in the foothills or piedmont.
Overnight, wind chills drop between 5 and 15 below in the mountains, 0 to 5 below in the Roanoke Valley and Martinsville and 0 to 5 above in Southside and Lynchburg.
3. Flash Freeze Threat
This is something we've spoken about for days now. With residual water on the road and a rush of cold air, flash freezing will be a threat in the mountains and on shaded roads.
The fact that we'll have some dry time, plus a longer wait time for sub-freezing air, makes us think that the threat for flash freezing is lower in Roanoke, Lynchburg and Southside.
Keep in mind that after the sun goes down, any wet spot will turn to ice. So black ice may become an issue even in Roanoke, Lynchburg and Southside Sunday night and Monday. However, that will more than likely be on bridges, overpasses and shaded roads.