Snow, cold, ice, oh my! It’s Winter Weather Preparedness Week in Virginia

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Happy Monday and welcome to another edition of the Beyond The Forecast weather newsletter!

We will turn the calendar page over to December later this week, which means it’s time to start thinking about winter weather in Virginia. The National Weather Service (NWS) has declared this week Winter Weather Preparedness Week.

Each day through Friday, they’re highlighting a different topic to prepare you for the snow, cold and ice to come.


It’s incredibly important to know the difference between winter weather alerts. When a winter storm is a day or two away, a WATCH will be issued. You still have time to complete storm preparations while under a watch. Conversely, your preparations should be completed and it’s time to hunker down when a winter storm WARNING is issued.

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Less impactful winter weather systems will be covered by a winter weather ADVISORY.


NWS says winter storms can bring the most dangerous weather to the Commonwealth each year. They specifically highlight the January 2016 winter storm to show the impacts snow, cold and wind can have. Some parts of Northern Virginia received up to four feet of snow!

We don’t expect that much snow in our viewing area this year (except if you live somewhere like Snowshoe). Look for your city on the map below for our best stab at how much snow will fall in your backyard this winter. We explained the methodology behind the forecast in our Winter Weather Outlook earlier this month.

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Excessive cold can happen a few times each winter. Generally, we consider temperatures or wind chills below 0° to be “excessively” cold.

Below, you’ll find a few tips on how to beat the cold weather. Pay specific attention to the space heater tidbit so you can avoid house fires.

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If you’ve lived in Southwest and Central Virginia for awhile, you are probably familiar with freezing rain and sleet.

Here’s a helpful reminder to know the difference: freezing rain “clings” and sleet “pings.”

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In general, freezing rain set-ups are more dangerous than sleet situations. That’s because the roads become slick and ice accumulation can bring trees down and cause power outages.


Finally, we wrap up Winter Weather Preparedness Week with winter driving tips.

One of the smartest things you can do is to prepare an emergency supply kit to keep in your vehicle. Keep your car fueled and maintenance up to date.

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You can get involved with NWS meteorologists this Winter Weather Preparedness Week! NWS Blacksburg is hosting a webinar Thursday evening and will answer your questions about winter weather.

They also will be teaching how to properly take a snowfall measurement. You can sign up for the webinar online if interested.

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We will have a taste of winter temperatures and winds as we get December started. Meteorologist Chris Michaels is tracking the front that will trigger the cold snap in our daily forecast article.

You can always get specific forecast details for your zone, whether it’s the Roanoke Valley, Southside, the Highlands, or elsewhere around Southwest and Central Virginia, anytime at Know your zone!

In case you missed it, we’re posting great weather and science content on Here are a few links from the past week to check out:

If you prefer your weather information delivered by social media, you can follow Your Local Weather Authority on Facebook and Twitter.

You can also keep up with me on social media. I’m on Facebook and Twitter follow along!

– Justin McKee

About the Author:

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.