Blog: Where Will The Rain/Snow Line Land?

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If you’re an avid reader of my weather blogs (Thank you if that’s the case!), then you know that I cringe when I talk about the dreaded rain/snow line that often plagues our region. A bit poetic…A bit dramatic…but true. We have cold/dry weather today, but the region will experience a mix of rain, sleet, and snow over the weekend. 

Let’s talk about it.

Today we have high pressure building into the region. We’ll have a lot of sunshine, but high temperatures will only be near 40 degrees this afternoon. Winds will be out of the northwest at 5-15mph.

While we stay dry today, there is an area of low pressure developing over Texas. 

An small upper level trough is moving through there and creating the surface low pressure. The surface low will drop southeast, then east, then northeast. This should allow it to pass to our south as a weak low. Another weak low will form near the coast of Georgia. This one will become the main low as it moves northeast (just offshore). Yesterday, I thought they were the same low because they were so subtle. Today I realized that the lows were separate. 

Anyway, moisture will move north of the lows as they both pass to our south/southeast. With the lows being fairly weak until they push offshore, they won’t push a lot of warmth up into our region, but they should be enough to produce onshore winds. That should be enough to push temperatures above freezing near the surface in Hampton Roads. Inland locations…We’ll see.

During the day Saturday, we should just have clouds as overunning happens.  High temps will be in the low 40s.  We may have a few sprinkles or flurries later in the day, but it shouldn’t be much.  By Saturday evening we’ll have even more moisture in the area.  Plus, the surface lows will be closer to the region.  So we’ll have some scattered/light mixed precipitation by that time with some snow possible northwest of the viewing area.  As we go through Saturday night into Sunday morning we’ll have rain developing across Hampton Roads with a wintry mix inland and north. 

Later Sunday morning the models split, and this is creating a tough spot in the forecast. Our Future Trak computer model actually drops the rain/snow line south. It has a band of snow from Isle of Wight County through the Peninsula/Middle Peninsula to the Eastern Shore on northward.

Meanwhile the GFS model, the European, and the NAM take the rain snow line more northwest by that time. The GFS and European more than the NAM.

Then our model keeps the snow inland and north until midday. It changes it over to rain for a bit, and pretty much wraps things up by the early afternoon.

The other models do not do this. Instead, they turn the precipitation into mostly rain over most of the region with some snow and mix well northwest of Hampton Roads.

While Future Trak dries things up by Sunday night, the GFS and Euro have some light scattered mixed precipitation through Sunday night into Monday morning. Though not much.

During that time the surface low will head out to sea, but an upper level trough will still be overhead.  Then we dry up for sure Monday night into Tuesday as all of it moves out to sea.

The bottom line is this…I think the GFS is a little too warm, and I think Future Trak is a little too cold.  So you probably have to blend the models together. Keeping that in mind….Here are the snow forecasts from those two models:

The theme from these two is that it looks like snow will stack up between Richmond to Northern Gloucester county, the Northern Neck, and northern Accomack county. There may be light snow accumulations just north/west of the Hampton Roads metro, but there would probably be a mix there which would cause at least some melting.  I’m not going to do a snow forecast map yet.  I do think a few inches of snow are possible between Richmond to Middlesex County, the Northern Neck, and all points northward.  But the bouncing around “mix zone” is making it too tough to forecast amounts on the ground between there and Portsmouth/Hampton. I did put a map together of where I think the different zones will set up.

I do think our model will update and come more in with the other models. There’s just been too much agreement from the other models that it has to. However, Future Trak may also be picking up on some colder pockets of air that the broader models are not catching. So for now I’m going with a blend of Future Trak and the Euro/GFS. Keep in mind that the long range models (including Future Trak) is blocky. So as it gets closer, they will probably show more scattered precipitation as the 4KM NAM has during that time.  

We could see about  0.5″ – 1.5″ of rain for those that get precipitation in liquid form. I doubt we’ll have flooding, but the ground is still muddy in some areas and that won’t help. 

So stay tuned for updates. We’ll have plenty of updates over the next 36 hours. 

Meteorologist: Jeremy Wheeler

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