Winter returns! Cold air, gusty wind and scattered bursts of snow highlight weekend forecast

A strong cold front moves through Saturday, bringing winter back to southwest and central Virginia

FutureTracker - midday Saturday

ROANOKE, Va. – After a few milder afternoons, winter makes a return to southwest and central Virginia the next several days. A strong cold front moves through the region during the afternoon Friday.

Around 11 a.m. or Noon, we’ll begin to see rain moving into parts of the New River Valley. This will mix with snow in parts of the New River Valley and Highlands during the afternoon. If there’s any accumulation, it will be pretty light.

FutureTracker - Friday afternoon

As the front slowly moves east, rain will increase during the afternoon for areas east of the Parkway like Bedford, Lynchburg and Southside.

FutureTracker - late Friday afternoon

We’ll be dry during the evening and most of the overnight, with temperatures falling to 25-31°. A trailing disturbance Saturday will reinforce the cold air and send snow to the west-facing slopes. There’s enough energy for scattered bursts of snow to make it past the mountains through the afternoon.

While not everyone will see these bursts/squalls of snow, they will come through with limited visibility and a gusty wind.

Snow squalls Saturday (1/16/2021)

If you do see accumulation outside of the mountains, it will be light and mainly west of the Blue Ridge Parkway. That’s why we have that area in the 0-1″ range. Areas closer to Troutdale, Rural Retreat, Bland and Highland County. The potential for anything more substantial will be on the west-facing slopes like Whitetop, Quinwood and Snowshoe.

Snow accumulation for Friday (1/15/2021) and Saturday (1/16/2021)

Aside from the limited snow potential, we’ll all feel the chill and the wind. The wind picks up Saturday afternoon and evening, with speeds of 10-20 mph and gusts of 25-35 mph.

Saturday's wind speed and wind gusts

So while highs will be in the 30s and 40s Saturday, the wind will make it feel colder than that.

Weekend forecast for 1/16 and 1/17/2021

We’ll still be breezy at times Sunday, but perhaps not quite as strong as what we expect Saturday.

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.