ROANOKE, Va. – It’s been a disappointing winter of ifs, buts, candies and nuts for snow lovers. After Super Bowl Sunday’s slop, we’re left once again asking “what if?”
What if all the rain, sleet and freezing rain was snow?
This isn’t to take away from the snow that was seen across the southern Blue Ridge during the evening.
In a case like Sunday, the storm system moving through was trying to generate its own cold air by dragging it down to the surface. We didn’t have a lot of cold air to play with at the time of its arrival.
During most of our snows, the temperature runs between 28 and 32°. In a case like that, the amount of liquid in the snowflake would make it so that for every 1 inch of liquid, you’d have 10-11 inches of snow.
It wasn’t that cold Sunday. In fact, there was a lot more liquid in the snowflakes which helps them melt more efficiently upon contact with the ground. Think about a game of Tetris. The pieces-or snowflakes-pile up more efficiently when there are dry pockets in the flakes/when the air is colder.
So, this ratio was 5:1 (five inches of snow for every one inch of liquid equivalent).
Most of the area received anywhere from 1-2″ of liquid precipitation. Based on our previous estimate, that would mean most of us would’ve had 5-10″ of snow.
The air above us was around 33-34°F, which led to most of us seeing a combination of rain, sleet and freezing rain.
You can watch our explainer (using Oreos) from last week to see why that was the case.
Is there any hope of snow moving forward?
Much of the week following Super Bowl Sunday will be warmer than average.
Check this link for the full forecast.
In looking at the pattern for the next two weeks, there’s no big sign of that changing either. The North Atlantic pattern is strong in the sense that it’s windier up there, which means the cold air is essentially being hugged closer to the North Pole.
So the snow deficit continues. Areas like Roanoke and Blacksburg are behind by 10 to 16″ this winter.