ROANOKE, Va. – With cold air already around and another storm system moving in from the west, Your Local Weather Authority will be tracking snow and a wintry mix at times Sunday.
4:00 p.m. Update
As we continue to learn more about this system, we continue to make little changes to the forecast. We have updated our snowfall totals map to reflect our latest thinking which is that areas such as Roanoke and Lynchburg could receive higher totals. Highest snowfall totals will be north of the 460 corridor and lower totals the farther south you travel.
Unfortunately we also have to keep an eye on our ice potential. The potential for freezing rain and sleet will be highest in the New River Valley and Southside, but cannot be ruled out elsewhere.
This is going to be the biggest winter storm system that we’ve dealt with this season. This has prompted the National Weather Service to issue a Winter Storm Watch for the entire area from 10 p.m. on Saturday until 10 p.m. on Sunday.
With that in mind, here are our thoughts on the threats to come. Of course we are expecting quite a bit of snow, especially north of 460. This and our ice threat will quickly lead to hazardous road conditions. Sunday is not a day that you want to be out-and-about. Refreezing will likely occur overnight Sunday into Monday. Ice may not only lead to difficult travel, but it could also cause downed trees and power lines.
We do know a lot about this system, but there is also a lot to learn. We are closing monitoring the situation so be sure to stay up-to-date on the latest with Your Local Weather Authority.
1:39 p.m. Update
Sunday is going to be messy on the roads, and some scattered outages will be possible.
The map above could certainly change in the coming days because a difference of one degree 3,000 feet above us separates several inches of snow from more of a mix.
Despite that, as a general rule with this storm, we expect more snow farther north and less snow/more mix farther south.
When looking at timing, this starts before sunrise Sunday and lingers into the early-to-mid afternoon before taking a break. Wrap-around moisture produces a rain/snow mix Sunday night and Monday, with light accumulations favoring areas west of the Parkway.
12:30 p.m. Update
LIVE WEATHER: A look at our snow and ice forecast for SundayPosted by WSLS 10 / WSLS.com on Friday, January 29, 2021
Types and Possible Totals
Contrary to this last system, this next storm has a few different layers to it. Most of the day will be spent at or below freezing at the surface. However, there’s a layer of “warmer” air above the surface that will likely come in from the north.
This means that a mix of sleet and freezing rain will become possible as we head throughout the day Sunday. That mix is most likely farther south, with more snow expected farther north. This “warm nose” creeps up from the south on the east side of our storm.
This makes forecasting snow totals very difficult Sunday. At the moment, it looks as though 1″ of snow is likely for most of the area except for Southside and possibly areas west of I-77.
The odds of 3″ of snow go down the farther south you go, but they stay elevated the farther north you go Sunday.
Remember, however, that where odds of snow go down is where odds of more ice go up. So, don’t let your guard down when you see that your area could get less snow.
Regardless of snow and ice amounts, the roads are going to get messy at times Sunday. Plan to stay in if you can. Based on the potential ice accumulation, power outages will become a possibility. Blowing snow isn’t as big a concern as it was with Wednesday night’s storm. As for strong wind, that’s mostly delayed until Tuesday once our system is farther east and stronger.
You may have to work virtually Monday as well. That’s due to leftover impacts and the fact that we’ll see a mix of rain and snow on Monday.
As our system draws closer, naturally precipitation will move through the area around or shortly after sunrise Sunday. As we head into the afternoon, energy is transferred to the coast. This could create a bit of a dry slot for us, which would cut down on totals and provide the opportunity to clean up a bit. Let’s hope this dry slot comes to fruition!
Later at night and into Sunday, our system is offshore. However, there’s enough moisture and energy to produce some leftover snow into Monday (especially along and west of the Parkway).
There are so many moving parts to this system, so please keep checking back for updates. Download our app for more information when we’re not on air this weekend.
More Immediate Forecast
As for Friday, we’re starting off very cold. Any little breeze makes a big difference out there, with air temperatures in the teens and 20s. We’ll keep it breezy at times Friday, but the wind won’t be quite as strong as it was Thursday.
With high pressure in firm control of our weather, expect more sun. High temperatures, however, will only make it into the 30s and 40s.
Expect clouds to gradually increase Saturday ahead of our winter storm.