Significant winter storm featuring snow, ice coming Wednesday

Travel will become very difficult Wednesday with power outages possible too

Ice accumulation forecast for Wednesday, 12/16/2020

ROANOKE, Va.*Winter Storm alerts are in effect for a large portion of the 10 News viewing area. *

Your Local Weather Authority has been tracking this storm for days. As we get closer to the storm’s arrival, there’s one thing that remains tricky in the forecast. That is the temperature above the surface. That will determine where snow cuts off and where the wintry mix begins. Regardless, an impactful and significant winter storm is likely in parts of our area Wednesday due to snow and ice.


This event starts between 5 and 7 a.m. Wednesday south of U.S. 460 as a combination of snow and ice (snow closer to 460 and ice farther south). Snow holds on longest in parts of Craig, Botetourt, Rockbridge, Nelson, Alleghany, Bath and Highland Counties.

FutureTracker - late Wednesday morning

As we go throughout the day, ice becomes the bigger concern. This will accumulate easily in parts of the New River Valley, Roanoke Valley and Central Virginia too. For parts of Southside and perhaps parts of Lynchburg too, we may gradually change over to a cold rain Wednesday evening. If that happens, our wintry impacts will be more short-lived than our neighbors to the west.

FutureTracker - Wednesday evening

Some snow may wrap around the storm west of the Blue Ridge Parkway later at night, but things will come to an end by early Thursday morning. Still, expect the roads to be messy Thursday morning with gradual improvements to main roads throughout the day.


Totals depend entirely on the temperature a few thousand feet above us. More snow will accumulate closer to I-64, with totals dropping off farther south. This may still need to be tweaked as new data comes in over the course of the day Tuesday.

Snow accumulation forecast for Wednesday, 12/16/2020 as of Tuesday, 12/15/2020

Ice is a big concern, especially for areas south of U.S. 460. Totals exceeding 0.25″ will be possible in parts of Montgomery, Floyd, Carroll and Franklin Counties (and perhaps farther north along the Blue Ridge Parkway into Bedford, Amherst and Nelson Counties too).

Ice accumulation forecast for Wednesday, 12/16/2020

At 0.25″ of ice accretion, damage starts to happen. We’re talking snapped limbs and possible power outages. You may not be without power for days at a time, but it will be cold and inconvenient if it does happen to you. Make sure you have some blankets, food you can eat cold and phones charged just in case.


Temperatures are a big deal with this storm, as we’ve mentioned. Thankfully, however, this storm won’t be followed by a major cold snap. We’ll recover to above freezing by Thursday, which should help speed up the recovery from this storm. Nighttime lows will fall into the 20s Thursday and Friday nights, but we’ll be back in the 40s each afternoon.

Temperature trend from 12/15 to 12/19/2020

Our next shot at a few showers comes in with a weaker system Sunday.

About the Author:

Meteorologist Chris Michaels is an American Meteorological Society (AMS) Certified Broadcaster, forecasting weather conditions in southwest Virginia on WSLS 10 News from 5 a.m. to 7 a.m. weekdays on Virginia Today.