Mix of rain and freezing rain develops Sunday

Light ice accumulations west of the Blue Ridge Parkway

By Chris Michaels - Meteorologist

ROANOKE, Va. - After a few bursts of snow early Saturday morning, things cleared out and dried out the rest of the day. Looking ahead to Sunday, there's the chance for rain and some freezing rain too. The National Weather Service has issued a Winter Weather Advisory through Sunday afternoon for areas near and west of the Blue Ridge Parkway.  

Let's break things down for you, by going through the a) timing b) totals and c) possible impacts. 

TIMING

Shortly after sunrise, we may see a few pockets of freezing rain developing in the Mountain Empire. This moisture will spread north into the NRV before lunchtime, with perhaps a little freezing rain near the Roanoke Valley between 10 and Noon too.

It could actually be cold enough for some snow and sleet near the north of Highway 460 between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. Any snow/sleet accumulation would likely be around half an inch or less.

The best chance for freezing rain between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. will be west of the Blue Ridge Parkway, before the storm system exits to the east afterward. 

TOTALS

The one thing we have going for us, again, is that the road temperatures aren't too terribly cold. Any ice accumulation would mainly be on hand rails, road signs, cars, etc. and would be about a tenth of an inch or less. Many urban areas, including the City of Roanoke, may only get down to 33 degrees, limiting any ice development. So, the better chance of seeing a tenth of an inch looks to be closer to the 2,000 foot level in elevation; lesser totals in the valleys.

IMPACTS

Because of the aforementioned road temperatures, we expect most main roads to be in decent shape throughout the day Sunday. (You can check road temperatures and conditions at 511virginia.org.) 

Less-traveled side roads, bridges and overpasses, however, may become slick at times. Power outages typically only happen if you see 0.25" of freezing rain or more, as that adds roughly 500 pounds of weight to the line. 

Therefore, we don't expect power outages to become an issue. 

LOOKING AHEAD

After a few more rain showers Sunday evening through the first half of Monday, we're mainly dry Monday and Tuesday. However, there's another chance for wintry weather Tuesday night into the first half of Wednesday.

At that time, high pressure will be bringing in a shallow layer of cold air. Low pressure from the south will be bringing in some moisture. It's looking likely that we'll see a mix of snow, ice and eventually rain. 

As of Saturday afternoon, the best chance for ice accumulation looks to be west of the Parkway. The best chance for snow accumulation looks to be north of Highway 460. Keep in mind, however, that this is still more than three days away. Specifics will be ironed out, as we get closer to the system's arrival.

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