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Stay in! Winter storm creates messy travel, power outage threat Thursday

Snow, sleet and freezing rain will create problems through at least Thursday morning

Ice accumulation forecast for Thursday, 2/18/2021

ROANOKE, Va. – Snow, sleet and freezing rain have begun making their presence felt in southwest and central Virginia. Let’s dive into the timing, totals, impacts and aftermath of the storm.

11:40 p.m. Weather update with Jeff Haniewich

Weather with Jeff

One last weather update tonight with Jeff.

Posted by WSLS 10 / WSLS.com on Thursday, February 18, 2021

9:40 p.m. Weather update with Jeff Haniewich

2:51 p.m. Weather update with Jeff Haniewich

Jeff's Thursday afternoon weather update (2/18/21)

We're talking ice and sleet accumulations along with a warm up? Jeff Haniewich WSLS 10 News has that and more!

Posted by WSLS 10 / WSLS.com on Thursday, February 18, 2021

10 a.m. Weather Update

Justin and Jenna have the latest forecast amidst another ice storm.

Timing

The worst of the precipitation we see likely comes during the first half of the day Thursday. As warmer air above us rises north, we’ll gradually see freezing rain become the dominant type of precipitation.

FutureTracker - 9 a.m. Thursday

The longer that snow or sleet holds on, the lesser your chance for power outages will be. The greatest chance for widespread or prolonged outages, therefore, will be east of the Blue Ridge Parkway.

As we head into the afternoon, some of the storm’s energy gets transferred offshore. This puts us in a little bit of a dry slot, so precipitation may not be as widespread. FutureTracker is a bit too optimistic here. We think most of what is falling will be freezing rain.

FutureTracker - 2 p.m. Thursday

Precipitation will start to fill back in later in the day and move east of the Parkway throughout the evening into early Friday morning. This will be in the form of rain and/or freezing rain.

FutureTracker - 7 p.m. Thursday

Totals

Because we’ve started with snow and sleet in parts of the NRV, Roanoke Valley and Highlands, ice totals in these locations may not be as high as other spots. That’s not to say you won’t see any freezing rain here. You will. It just might not be crippling. As you head from Floyd and Franklin Counties eastward toward Bedford, Lynchburg and Southside, ice totals come up.

Ice accumulation forecast for Thursday, 2/18/2021

Power outages will become an issue for areas that see more than a quarter of an inch of ice, especially coming off of Saturday’s storm.

If you’re looking for more snow and sleet, you’ve got to head farther north. The better chance for a couple inches of this mixture will be near and north of I-64. The one thing that could ruin snow totals even this far north is sleet.

Impacts

As mentioned above, power outages are a concern especially coming off of Saturday. Our trees and limbs are weaker now, and that could lead to some damage especially east of the Parkway.

Avoid parking or walking under power lines or trees the next few days. Have some extra blankets, jackets and sweatshirts around in case you do lose power.

Tips for freezing rain and power outages

For those that do lose power, it may take some time for it to come back on. The wind won’t necessarily be howling, but it will be gusty at times Friday afternoon.

Friday's wind speed and wind gust forecast

With temperatures in the upper 20s in many parts of the region, anything that falls sticks. We expect the roads to be messy at times throughout the day. If you don’t have to be out, please stay in.

Road conditions from Thursday through Saturday

Come Friday morning, temperatures will still be around freezing. Slick spots will still be out there in the morning, even though most of the precipitation will be moving east. Come Friday afternoon and Saturday, most of us will be just fine on the roads.

After the Storm

As we head into the weekend, high pressure comes into control of our weather. Thank goodness! High pressure overhead leads to sinking air, which will mean more of a mix of clouds and sunshine and drier weather.

What we're tracking - 2/20 and 2/21/2021

High temperatures Saturday will only be in the 30s for much of the area. By Sunday, most of us will be in the 40s.

Weekend forecast for 2/20 and 2/21/2021

We’ll get through a much weaker storm system Monday that will produce a mix of rain and (mostly) mountain snow. After that, we rise into the 50s next Tuesday and Wednesday!


About the Authors:

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.

Justin McKee presents the weather forecast on 10 News Saturday and Sunday mornings from 6 to 8 a.m. He also fills in for other meteorologists during the week.