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Snow, ice to cause slippery roads, scattered power outages Wednesday

Wednesday’s winter storm will make driving dangerous at times

FutureTracker - 8 a.m. Wednesday
FutureTracker - 8 a.m. Wednesday

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Timing

The bulk of cold air Wednesday morning is left near and north of US 460 (from Pearisburg to Blacksburg to Salem/Roanoke to Bedford to Lynchburg and Appomattox and points north). This is where there’s the better chance of accumulating snow during the first half of the day.

FutureTracker - 8 a.m. Wednesday

As the morning presses on, a layer of warm air above us moves north. This keeps most precipitation south of I-64 in the form of freezing rain and sleet.

FutureTracker - 10 a.m. Wednesday

By the afternoon, things change over to a cold rain in areas closer to Lynchburg and Southside, while some of us see a period of drier weather.

FutureTracker - 2 p.m. Wednesday

The backside of our system moves through later on, producing another mix of snow, freezing rain, sleet and rain. This may be your best chance of light snow accumulation in parts of the New River Valley. Unfortunately, that comes on top of a layer of ice.

FutureTracker - Wednesday evening

After 10 or 11 p.m., the weather quiets down with a breeze coming in out of the northwest.

Totals

Our forecasted totals have not changed much since Tuesday. We still think the bulk of snow accumulation will be farther north. Areas like Blacksburg, Roanoke, Bedford and parts of Botetourt County will see somewhere between 1 to 3″ of snow before the change-over to a mix. Any hope of snow in southern portions of the NRV (Pulaski, Wythe, Floyd, etc.) will likely have to wait until the evening.

Snow accumulation forecast for Wednesday, 12/16/2020

Ice is still a concern for a large part of the area, given the fact that there’s a layer of above-freezing air just a few thousand feet up. A glaze will be possible as far north as Covington and Lexington on top of the snow we receive. Higher totals will be possible in parts of the New River Valley, Roanoke Valley and near the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Ice accumulation forecast for Wednesday, 12/16/2020

Impacts

Despite the ongoing pandemic, we’ve seen a number of school closings and delays since Tuesday. Roads are going to turn quite messy after 9 a.m. Wednesday and will stay that way for much of the day. Slight improvements will happen toward Lynchburg and Southside, where we see a shift to cold rain during the afternoon. Areas that see 0.25″ or more of ice accumulation stand the chance for power outages.

Storm threats for Wednesday, 12/16/2020

Make sure you put your windshield wipers up off your windshield, and take the ice scraper out of your car. Be extra careful on untreated surfaces like sidewalks, porches, decks, etc. Keep a few extra blankets around in case you lose power, and make sure to have batteries and your phone charged.

Temperatures

Once the precipitation comes to an end, the impacts don’t necessarily go away immediately. Temperatures overnight will hover right around freezing. This will keep things slick into the overnight, as road crews continue to work.

Low temperature forecast for Thursday morning, 12/17/2020

Slick travel is likely in parts of the area Thursday morning with improvements throughout the day, as high temperatures reach into the 40s for most spots.


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.