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Strong winter storm to bring mixed bag of snow, sleet, freezing rain to Virginia Sunday

Get the shovels and/or ice scrapers ready for Sunday and Monday morning

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.

Impact

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.

Winter weather threats for Sunday, 1/16/2022

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.

An estimate of where the snow will be around 9 a.m. Sunday

As the storm system moves northward, so does the snow. Once it falls, it sticks around most of the day Sunday.

As of Friday at 5 p.m., here's when we're thinking Sunday's snow will begin. (WSLS 10)

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.

Precipitation types and how temperatures aloft affect the forecast (Copyright 2021 by WSLS 10 - All rights reserved.)

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.

An estimate of what Sunday's winter storm will look like during the afternoon

Totals

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.

Snow map for Sunday as of Friday, 1/14/2022

Areas east of US-29 could wind up with a tenth of an inch or more of ice, which would make things very messy.

Ice map for Sunday as of Friday, 1/14/2022

Once you reach a quarter of an inch of ice is when power outages become a concern.

Make sure you download our app for the latest updates and alerts regarding Sunday’s winter storm. You can send your pictures of the storm through Pin It on the app as well.


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.

Morning commute forecast for Friday, 1/14/2022

By the afternoon, a mix of clouds and sun along with a breeze will push our temperatures toward seasonable levels.

High temperature forecast for Friday, 1/14/2022

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.


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.