ROANOKE, Va. – A Winter Storm Watch goes into effect all day Sunday through Monday morning.
A significant winter storm moves into the area Sunday. This article will be broken up to show you the impact of the storm, overall timing, the types of precipitation in play and the totals.
This is the most important part to any storm - the impact.
With high snow accumulations and the potential for sleet/freezing rain mixing in for some of us, we need to do our best to stay off the road Sunday into at least part of Monday. Given the wind that wraps around this storm Monday, power outages are at least a possibility. School delays and closings are a possibility beyond Martin Luther King Day, so plan ahead just in case.
Timing & Types
The southern half of the area begins picking up on snow as soon as sunrise or shortly before that time Sunday. There will be parts of the area that wake up Sunday morning to nothing but a cloudy sky.
As the storm system moves northward, so does the snow. Once it falls, it sticks around most of the day Sunday.
What we’ll have to watch for is a thin layer of “warm” air above the surface and where exactly that sets up during the afternoon and evening hours. That determines who sees sleet and freezing rain.
At the moment, that’s most likely to be east of the Blue Ridge Parkway. The storm’s exact track will determine whether or not that moves north and west a bit more.
The timing, the possible precipitation types and the available moisture were all taken into consideration when making our first-call snow/sleet and ice maps. Don’t just refer to the higher number. The range is there for a reason, and that is subject to change depending on any shift in the storm’s track.
For instance, if you see a later start time and sleet mixing in, your totals will be on the lower end of what’s on the map. If you see a slightly earlier start time and less sleet, then your totals will be on the higher end.
Regardless, a significant accumulation is expected in the New River Valley, the Roanoke Valley and the Highlands (indicated in white). Just east of that, there’s the potential for 4-8″ of snow and sleet. This pertains to areas shaded in blue. The farther east you go of US-29, the lower totals we expect due to more mixing of sleet, freezing rain and rain later in the storm.
Areas east of US-29 could wind up with a tenth of an inch or more of ice, which would make things very messy.
Once you reach a quarter of an inch of ice is when power outages become a concern.
More Immediate Forecast
Following a weak disturbance, Friday morning starts out chilly and frosty. You may have to scrape or defrost the windshield before heading out for the day.
By the afternoon, a mix of clouds and sun along with a breeze will push our temperatures toward seasonable levels.
Higher elevations will be in the upper 30s and lower 40s, and the rest of the area will see highs in the upper 40s and lower 50s.