St. Patrick’s Eve Storm

Brief update… 9pm Saturday

All available data point to plowable snow for Central Virginia.  This is true if you consider Central Virginia to be Charlottesville, Lynchburg, or Richmond.


Sunday morning is just cloudy, then late in the afternoon, light rain develops… quickly transitioning to frozen precipitation around dusk… even an hour or so before that in some places.

The transition will be to sleet and snow, with areas in Southside Virginia getting more sleet than snow.  Snow will be heaviest during the night, which is why we expect the snow and sleet to accumulate.

Most of the accumulating will be finished around daybreak.  Although nuisance flurries, pockets of sleet, and even drizzle are expected during the daylight hours of Monday, we do not expect further significant accumulation after sunrise.  That is, most of the damage (so to speak) comes Sunday evening and Sunday night.

Confidence: Medium

Results this winter have been mixed regarding our QFP (quantitative precipitation forecasts).  That is, we have had some direct hits and spectacular misses when it has come to final amounts on the ground.

At this time, we feel strongly that there will be, at minumum, plowable snow for areas north of a line from Pulaski… to Rocky Mount… to Farmville… to Petersburg… to the Middle Peninsula. Southward, it gets more tricky, as there will be more sleet to contend with.

To reiterate, small changes in north/south location will yield large differences in amount of snow on the ground, and heavier bursts (or banding) of snow could yield an additional 1-3 inches over the current forecast (below) at the local level.

The amounts

Our station's going forecast. Issued at 6pm Saturday.

Our station’s going forecast. Issued at 6pm Saturday.

For Greater Lynchburg eastward to Greater Richmond, 3-6″ is a conservative estimate. If a couple of those narrow, heavier bands line up in this region, 8″ can easily fall.  Higher end of that range to be expected north of that line… so Lovingston, Charlottesville, Fluvanna, Hanover, Fredericksburg have the best shot of nudging into the 8-inch area (and yes… perhaps even 10).

Amounts drop quickly farther south, as more sleet will mix in, cutting down on the amount on the ground.  Southern Richmond and Tri-Cities, to Dinwiddie, Brookneal, Smith Mountain Lake, and much of the Roanoke and New River Valley are looking at about 2-5 inches.

From Sussex and Lunenburg, west toward Volens and Gretna, and continuing into Franklin County and the western New River Valley, about 1-3 inches.

Along the North Carolina state line, lots of sleet, so about an inch or so of a messy, slushy accumulation from Emporia westward across Buggs Island Lake, to South Boston, Danville, Martinsville, and Galax.

Need help finding where you are? Reference map:


In the wake

Even Tuesday looks cloudy, and there are some suggestions in the data that additional nuisance snow is possible, but right now we expect it to be just cloudy with afternoon temperatures in the lower 40s.

A weaker system may touch off some rain showers Wednesday or Thursday, but plenty warm by then, with highs in the 50s, perhaps 60s.  Higher temperatures and stronger March sun will keep the snow from sitting around until the weekend.


Travel will be worst late Sunday night and Monday morning.  I am optimistic that melting will begin as early as Monday afternoon, and the temperatures will only drop a few degrees below freezing Monday night.  I would not expect all roads to be clear by Monday evening, but I think most major roads will be passable with caution by then (although perhaps at about 80% of normal speed).

VDOT maintains a road conditions page. Click on the Road Conditions Layer on the left side of their page for their updates.

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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