Snow potential next week

So far, the winter has been mild and dry, at least when compared to the long-term averages.

About a week ago, the main American long-range forecast model (GFS) suggested a storm would be close enough and temperatures would be low enough to support a plowable snow in our part of Virginia.  To hang your forecasting hat on one computer model two weeks in advance will end your credibility in a hurry.  I still remember my one of my college professors referring to computer forecasts that far in advance as “dreamland.”

Having said that, the best performing medium range forecasting model, the ECMWF, is now beginning to nudge toward the GFS solution.


Note the area of low pressure near the Carolina coastline. This is the potential storm, The dashed red line just above the “L” is the approximate rain/snow line.

However, nudging toward does not mean total agreement.  The only thing we can say with confidence right now is that a strong disturbance will be moving through the southeastern United States toward the middle of next week.  Right now, it looks like Wednesday the 19th, give or take about 24 hours.  Temperatures may be close enough to support snow in our part of Virginia, but that is a long way from certain.

This is the first time this season the pattern has even favored the possibility of plowable snow for us, but it is important to emphasize that much still needs to happen in the next seven days to produce snow. The storm could just as easily stay too far south to effect us at all.

Once this storm does go by, the pattern is expected to favor temperatures at or below normal from the 20th through Christmas Day. Normal highs are in the upper 40s. Normal lows are in the upper 20s.

Still worth monitoring closely, but not worth running out to the hardware or grocery stores yet.  For oddsmakers, I would put the chance of 1″+ of snow at anyplace in our viewing area with this system at around 15%.  Too early to give up, but too early to get excited.

About seansublette

Meteorologist at Climate Central. Broadcast meteorologist in Virginia from 1995 to 2015. Born and raised in Richmond, VA. Penn State alumnus. Loves baseball and the rock band Rush. Views are independent of my employer. Past performance does not guarantee future results.
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