Weather outside to turn frightful by Christmas Eve, Christmas Day

Christmas 2020 will likely be the coldest one we’ve seen since 2004.

Impacts from Christmas Eve cold front

ROANOKE, Va. – The fire will be oh so delightful by Christmas Day.

Prior to that, however, we have one heck of a cold front to track. Let’s split this article up into Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, diving into the details that you need to know.

First, here’s a basic rundown.

- Rain increases in coverage and intensity on Christmas Eve.

- Localized flooding possible along the Blue Ridge Parkway, with stronger storms east of U.S. 29 late in the afternoon Christmas Eve.

- Snow accumulation of 1″ or more most likely toward the WV-VA line and flakes could fly as far east as the Blue Ridge Parkway during the evening.

- Wind gusts could cause scattered power outages Christmas Eve night into Christmas morning.

- A flash freeze is possible by Christmas morning, thanks to residual moisture from our Christmas Eve rain.

- Christmas Day could be the coldest we’ve had in nearly two decades.

Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve starts with clouds and a few areas of light rain and drizzle, thanks to a wind out of the south and southeast rising up the mountains. As a cold front slowly moves closer, we’ll notice the moisture and the wind increasing.

This means there will be a slightly higher chance of flooding with the 1-2″ of rain we receive along the Blue Ridge Parkway Thursday. The increased wind and warmer air may help produce a line of strong thunderstorms east of U.S. 29 during the evening.

Storm threats by Christmas Eve 2020

The rain we receive will likely push 2020 over the edge as the wettest year on record in Roanoke. The heaviest of the rain is expected between about 2 and 7 p.m. Thursday, moving from southwest to northeast along our strong cold front.

FutureTracker - 6 p.m. Christmas Eve

The warmest air will be east of U.S. 29, toward Halifax and Charlotte counties and in areas farther east. In fact, the threat for severe weather is highest in eastern North Carolina. By 8 p.m., the worst of the rain will likely be east of the area.

What makes this cold front so strong, however, is that some very cold air will be on the other side of it. So while Southside may be dealing with stronger storms early Thursday evening, parts of the New River and Highlands could be getting snow.

FutureTracker - 8 p.m. Christmas Eve

That period of snow is likely going to be brief, leading to lighter accumulations on this side of the mountains. The places most likely to see 1″ of snow or more will be closer to the WV-VA line and along/west of I-77.

Snow accumulation forecast for Christmas Eve 2020

Some snow may fall as far east as the Blue Ridge Parkway. If it slows down, we could see up to an inch on the grass in parts of the New River Valley, Roanoke Valley and Highlands. However, it’s likely that accumulation (if any) that far east would be even lighter than that. That’s why there’s a range of 0 to 1 inch.

The wind will be crankin’ at times. That, in addition to a wet ground, could lead to scattered power outages.

Christmas Day

Cold air continues to surge into the area, leading to Christmas morning temperatures in the 20s. Wind chills will be lower than that. While most of us will be dry, we’ll have to watch for the possibility of a flash freeze first thing in the morning. Temperatures will go from the 50s and 60s Christmas Eve with rain to 20s overnight. That residual moisture can freeze, not just on the roads, but on car doors too.

Holiday cold blast of 2020

When you factor in the wind on Christmas Day, wind chills even in the afternoon may not make it out of the single digits in the mountains and teens in other locations.

Christmas Day wind chills - 2020

Hopefully, Santa got you a parka!

With highs only in the 20s and 30s, it’s likely that this Christmas will be the coldest since 2004.

A very cold Christmas - 12/25/2020

In fact, it could fall within the Top-10 coldest on record across much of the area. Saturday morning’s low temperatures will then fall into the 15-20° range.

With all that said, make sure you have a way to get weather information throughout the Christmas holiday. Download our app for more frequent updates.

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.