You've probably heard... there's the potential for a significant winter storm Friday into Saturday. While the general idea of a strong system looks pretty certain, the details are very much up for grabs at this point, and here's why. The main reason is that the energy that will sow the seeds for the storm is still located over the Pacific Ocean.
Since there is less good data available from the oceanic versus land sources, the computer models will not give us a sharper consensus on what will happen until about midweek, when the storm actually begins to form over the western U.S. For now there can be much fluctuation in model solutions. Regardless, all signs do point to a major storm. The details will have more to do with precipitation type, which of course can have a huge impact.
Another complicating factor will be how much warm air from offshore is entrained into the storm as it moves and develops near the mid-Atlantic coast. The Gulf Stream water temperatures are very warm, and if associated warm oceanic air is drawn strongly inland, then more rain than snow could occur, even over the Virginia Piedmont.
As you can see, the end result is not clear-cut, at least as of this writing. As the old cliché goes, stay-tuned!
Posted by Jim Duncan