Posted by: Meteorologist Ros Runner
Updated-- 5:45 pm WEDNESDAY
We are still looking at the potential for a storm system to affect our region this upcoming Saturday into Saturday night. However, it is becoming more apparent that this WILL NOT be a major storm like we had feared earlier in the week.
Computer model forecasts are in general agreement that this will be a weaker system tracking across the southern U.S. from Friday into early Sunday morning. In Central Virginia, I expect some light rain to move into the area by Saturday afternoon into Saturday night. The air doesn't look to be quite cold enough for snow around here, however, it should be marginally cold enough for some snow or a mix of snow and sleet over western and northern parts of the state. Even just a small amount of wintry precipitation could be problematic for holiday travelers.
As you can see from the graphic below, the greatest potential for wintry weather around the region will be from western North Carolina/eastern Tennessee, through portions of the Ohio River Valley. It now appears very little precipitation may actually make it north of Washington D.C. Eastern areas including most all of Central Virginia should see mainly light rain.
We are still 3 days out from this storm and there still could be some adjustments. By tomorrow or Friday, we should be able to be to provide more detailed information about what to expect. Stay tuned!
From Meteorologist Samantha Roberts:
You'll walk out of your door tomorrow morning to abundant blue sky and chilly temperatures. Our friends on the West Coast, however, will wake up to rain, rain, and MORE rain. All of this moisture will ride in along a long, flowing atmospheric river.
"A WHAT," you ask?! An atmospheric river is a relatively narrow region in the atmosphere that is responsible for most of the horizontal transport of water vapor outside of the tropics. Think of it as a persistent stream of moisture way above the Earth's surface.
One particularly well known atmospheric river, the "Pineapple Express," is going to bring MUCH needed rain to drought stricken areas of California and Oregon this week. (The "Pineapple Express" is named after a tropical fruit because the moisture feed typically extends from Hawaii to the U.S. mainland. Get it?)
They really need rain in some of these areas. I mean, look at all of this drought.
A whopping 55% of the entire STATE of California is considered to be in "EXCEPTIONAL drought." In drought terms, that's about as bad as it gets.
They need rain out there but they DO NOT need it all at once. Unfortunately, rain soaked areas will most likely have to contend with flooding and potentially mudslides. They're also looking at significant snowfall in the Sierra Nevada and in the mountains of Northern California.
So, why am I writing about this on our NBC12 Weather Insider? What does weather in California have to do with us? As we have talked about on TV before, in this big (and sometimes beautiful) world of weather, we are ALL connected. Weather systems typically move from west to east, meaning this one will be headed right for central Virginia in the coming days.
No worries, though. This will be a MUCH smaller event for us. At this time, it looks like simply scattered rain showers for our corner of the world. Rain should move in on Tuesday and out by Wednesday.
Posted by Jim Duncan at 9:23pm Tuesday
This is the latest guidance forecast for snow amounts expected Wednesday. Greatest impacts still expected over the western Piedmont into the Blue Ridge and west. Could see a trace western Hanover, and inch or two Louisa, western Goochland, and more towards Albemarle, Nelson Counties. Keep in mind travel conditions could quickly worsen heading to the west and north, particularly towards the Blue Ridge.
**Added note from Andrew @ 5:34am. Higher elevations in Western VA will see bigger totals. Above 1500', totals might head to 6"+
Still looks like just rain in Richmond**
Posted by Jim Duncan at 4:05pm Tuesday, Nov. 25
Note: no real changes as of 5:35am...this map is the last one we'll put out. Drive safely! -Andrew
Travel weather Wednesday will feature the greatest threat for winter weather impacts from the west-central Piedmont into the Blue Ridge and points west. If your travel plans take you over Afton mountain or anywhere along the I-81 corridor, be prepared to encounter some wet snow that will likely be accumulating. Travel conditons east of the Blue Ridge will be impacted by heavy rain, with wet snow possible from western Goochland, Louisa, and Fluvanna counties. There could also be wet snow mainly from Spotsylvania to the north.
Pevious post by Andrew below:
(Posted by Andrew Freiden and Matt Holiner 6:50am on Tuesday, Nov. 25)
Tricky forecast, but the models are starting to come in better agreement about what we can expect for tomorrow. It still looks like mostly rain for Richmond, but there is a chance for a few wet flakes to mix in with the rain in the late afternoon tomorrow. However, no accumulation is expected, and areas south and east of town will likely only see rain.
Considerably more snow is expected WEST of town toward Charlottesville and the I-81 corridor. Winter storm watches and advisories are up in this area. If you're planning to travel to/through this portion of the state, your best bet is to do so during the morning, before the rain to snow transition begins. Either way, give yourself extra time to reach your destination.
We will continue to bring you the latest on this potentially high-impact event.
Updated storm graphic posted by Jim at 11:23pm Monday.
Post by Andrew Freiden on 9am 11/24/2014
Wherever you are driving on Wednesday, it's likely to be a slower trip than you'd like. Even in areas that don't get snow, a cold rain will make the packed roads slippery and slow. Please start planning now to alter plans!
Here are some maps I've worked out to help you understand what we think will happen.
First map: The areas that we think will get only rain. And it's everyone south and East of the white line that I've labeled with a green "1." That includes the coastal Northern Neck all the way down to I-85. Expect rain to begin tomorrow (Tuesday) night and last through the mid-to-late afternoon Wednesday.
Second map: A zone between line 1 and 2 Where we think rain will begin tomorrow night, lasting through the early afternoon Wednesday. This will likely end as a brief period of wet snow Wednesday afternoon. Significant accumulation is not likely... but we can't rule it out quite yet. Please be alert. Even a brief period of snow could make roads slick and cause accidents/delays.
Third map: For the areas between lines 2 and 3, After a period of rain through late morning Wednesday, A changeover to snow is expected as the storm ends midday and early afternoon. These Northern And Western zones could get an inch or two of accumulation. Travel north on 95 and West on I-64 could be impacted.
Fourth Map: From line 3 to the North and West, this is where the biggest impacts will be with snow, or a rain/snow mix for the duration of the storm. We think I-81 could get 4"+ of snow.
*It's always a tough call with these storms as a minor shift in track or intensity could wreak havoc with the forecast...since Wednesday is such a huge travel day, please check with NBC12 on air or streaming online for the the latest information. Those tightly packed white lines could easily shift!
We are still looking at another signficant storm system to affect the area on Thanksgiving Eve.
Low pressure developing off the coast of the U.S. tomorrow night will make its way up the Eastern Seaboard on Wednesday and then away from the area in time for the holiday itself. As the moisture is moving north, colder air will be trying to work into the area from the west.
Computer model forecast data has changed little over the past 12 hours. It still looks like a soaking rain versus a big snowstorm in Richmond and points East.
That said, this system will really be cranking up as it tracks east just off the Virginia coast on Wednesday afternoon. The upper air dynamics associated with the storm should be enough to bring some colder air down to the surface and allow for a change to wet snow before ending. But in Richmond, as often is the case, the rain will race ahead of the cold air.
*We are not letting our guard down as one of the computer models wants to keep it in the low 30s Wednesday...meaning we can't take snow off the table in Richmond*
The farther west and northwest you go out of the metro Richmond area, the better chance you might even see a few inches of snow. We're thinking Louisa, Fluvanna and our counties closer to Charlottesville would most likely get an inch or two of snow.
As you get closer to the I-81 corridor of far western Virginia, that is where mostly snow should fall and accumulations have the potential to be much more significant (4"+). Keep this in mind if you have plans to travel on Wednesday for the Thanksgiving holiday. Even in the areas that get mostly rain, it won't be a fun travel day since the rain will be falling heavily at times. I-81 looks to be snowy on Wednesday while I-95 is mainly just heavy rain.
We'll continue to monitor it's development and keep you updated on any changes. Keep in mind, a change in the track of the storm could make a big difference. Stay abreast of any forecast changes should you be traveling....this storm system will have far reaching effects up and down the entire East Coast. Areas well inland get the snow, areas closer to the coast get quite a bit of rain. Hope you have a great evening!
Update: 6am THURSDAY.
The machine cranking up again... They are watching for another potential 1-2' in spots today into tonight. UGH.
Here's the post that Samantha put up YESTERDAY
After seeing more images of this week's historic lake effect snow event in western New York, I'll be spending the rest of the day counting my blessings! Over the last few days, they have gotten a TON of snow up there. Really. Look at some of these totals from the National Weather Service office in Buffalo, NY.
SIXTY INCHES OF SNOW. Those are JUST from Erie County!
You can imagine that all of that snow piling up on cars, homes, and businesses can't be good. A scene like this might seem tranquil...
But snow piling up on rooftops and around doors can cause them to collapse.
Lake effect snow can make travel deadly. Sadly, as of this morning, this lake effect snow event has led to 5 deaths.
Photo from Caitlin Battaglia who is stuck on the Thruway near Lackawanna tolls. pic.twitter.com/RVcJCi7q1b— WGRZ (@WGRZ) November 19, 2014
Seriously, every picture blows my mind. Imagine opening up your garage doors to THIS.
Or waking up to this...
So, what caused all of this snow? What IS lake effect snowfall? Here's a great diagram to illustrate.
The most basic way to put it: You get a COLD wind, moving over WARMER water, that air rises, and BOOM. LOTS of snow. Lake effect snow events can produce as much as 200 inches or more of snow. Lake effect season typically runs from November through March.
There's no doubt that these folks will be digging out for quite a while.
As the Buffalo News exclaimed in their headline this morning...
Western New Yorkers are a resiliant bunch.
Unfortunately, another round of lake effect snow is likely today into tomorrow.
UPDATE: Alright everyone! Thanks for your entries. We received nearly 500 guesses and now we will wait to see when Mother Nature will pick the winner. Good luck!
CONTEST IS CLOSED!!
new entries recieved via email will NOT be added to the contest!!!
When do you think we'll get our first inch of snow here in Richmond?
It may seem too early to think about snow, but the time has come for our annual snow forecasting contest. Fill out the form below, telling us the date and time when you think the Richmond Airport will record its first inch of snow. We want the time you think the inch will accumulate, NOT when it'll start snowing.
Entries must be received by 11:59 PM on November 3, 2014 (MONDAY).
You won't be included in the contest unless you include the time and date.
The winner gets.... bragging rights, and an interview on NBC12. Happy Snowcasting!
From: Meteorologist Ros Runner
It's hard to imagine that we are even thinking about using the word "snow" in the forecast after seeing temperatures in the mid 80s on Tuesday afternoon. Big changes are brewing though as a cold front arrives during the day Wednesday. This front is expected to bring some scattered showers as it moves across the region Wednesday afternoon and evening.
Behind this front, we turn notably cooler for Thursday. Even with plenty of sunshine, afternoon highs should range from the low to mid 60s. By Halloween, we'll be watching a strong disturbance in the jet stream winds approaching from the northwest. This will carve out a sharp, deep trough over the Eastern U.S. that will ultimately bring the coldest air of the season thus far. At the same time, low pressure will develop off the coast of North Carolina and strengthen as it tracks to the northeast.
Bottom Line: Much of the day Friday (Halloween) looks just fine...we'll have some sun during the morning, then increasing clouds during the afternoon. Highs should top out in the lower 60s at best...some areas north and west will never get out of the 50s. By Friday night, the strong disturbance passing over us coupled with the developing low offshore will cause light rain to break out over Central Virginia...much of that rain is expected to come after Tricker-treating Friday evening, although there may be a some light rain before all the little ghosts and goblins have gathered their treats.
For Central Virginia, Saturday now appears to be a windy, wet, and cold day as the noreaster is cranking up offshore. The air looks to be cold enough for some snow in the Virginia, North Carolina, and West Virginia mountains. Even areas as close to home as Roanoke and Blacksburg could see some wet snow Friday night into Saturday. While some wet snow flakes mixing in with the rain is a possibility in the piedmont counties well west of Richmond, this looks to be nearly 100% a rain event for most, if not all of us.
Is Virginia snow all that unusual at this time of year? Not really. In fact, the mountainous areas to our west have recorded measureable snow in October in 2 of the last 3 years. (2011 and 2012)
This storm has yet to develop, so we'll continue to monitor for any changes in the computer forecasts in the days ahead. Stay tuned!