Another wintry issue

Quick update on the storm system expected to affect us Sunday and Monday…

Timing still looks like Sunday morning through Monday afternoon.

Regarding snowfall on the ground, there have been a couple of important trends in the last 24 hours.  The first is that the distribution of snow in our part of the state appears to be moving toward a specific pattern, where areas north and west of Lynchburg City get accumulating snow.  Southside Virginia, like so often these last few months, appears poised to miss out on significant accumulations.

The second is that there will be shifts in precipitation type during this storm.  It looks like most locations will have some rain and some snow, with the possible exception of Virginia’s Western Highlands, which may be entirely snow.

The storm will not be one drawn-out event.  There will be bursts and lulls in the precipitation.  The first surge probably goes on for several hours, then a break, before a second, smaller surge of precipitation finishes up the storm on Monday.

So, when and where those precipitation types shift are critical.  But it does look likely that there will be some snow on the ground along and north of US460 by dusk Sunday.

GFS Snow

12z/21 March GFS Snow Depth Forecast valid 8am Monday, March 25. Graphic: WeatherBell

The GFS (above) suggests another dramatic drop-off in snow depth from Virginia’s Western Highlands (maximum) to Southside Virginia (minimum). More important to look at the pattern here, rather than the specific numbers.  The ECMWF has a similar snow depth pattern.

Regarding travel, the poorest conditions would probably be Sunday night. A small coating of slushy accumulation on roads, again, mainly north and west of Lynchburg.  Once daylight breaks on Monday, even beneath an overcast sky, there in enough solar energy getting through the clouds to help warm road surfaces up (unless precipitation rates are very heavy).

Wild first guesses… about 1-3″ in Greater Lynchburg, Trace-1″ in Southside, 2-4″ for Roanoke and New River Valleys, 3-6″ Nelson and Rockbridge Counties… and into the higher terrain of Alleghany and Bath Counties.

To reiterate, the onset of the storm is still about 6o hours away, so it is important to follow the forecast once or twice a day for updates.  Changes should be expected.

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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