Blog: Cold/Dry Today. Accumulating Snow Late Wednesday-Thursday.


When I came in this morning, I thought the forecast was starting to come together for the next few days.  However, snow in Hampton Roads is a always a tricky business.  I’ll get back to that in just in moment.  First, let me talk about the current cold weather.  This morning (as expected) wind chills were in the single digits across the region.

Wind Chills This Morning

Temps started off in the teens with a few 20s over the Outer Banks.  It was rough for kids going back to school and folks heading back to work.  Today we have a big area of high pressure off to our west.

Regional Weather Map

This is creating lots of sunshine for the eastern 1/3rd of the country.  Our surface winds will be out of the north/northwest at 5-15mph.  So the cold air will keep funneling in.  High temps will rise to the upper 20s to near 30.  However, wind chills will still be in the upper teens to near 20.  Tonight will be quiet with increasing clouds. Low temps will be in the teens and 20s.  If the clouds move in sooner, then we’ll see more 20s.  If the clouds stay thin and high, then lows will be more in the teens.  However, tomorrow we will warm up a bit.  An area of low pressure will form offshore to our southeast.

Wednesday's Forecast Map

This will push some moisture up into our region.  However, it will be pretty dry at the surface. So we probably won’t see much precip at first.  Clouds will increase through the morning.  High temps will rise into the upper 30s to near 40 degrees.  The wind will be out of the east/northeast, but there will actually be a little milder air coming in off of the ocean.  Temps will be colder inland and north, but they would still be above freezing.  This means that any mix that does forms would probably melt at first. Notice it is mostly a cold rain from southern Virginia Beach down to the Outer Banks.

Future Trak (Wednesday Afternoon)

By the early evening colder air will start moving back in as the winds turn more out of the north.  This will allow snow to be more common in the mix.

Future Trak (Wednesday Night)

By Thursday morning the low will start moving away from the region.  It will impact the northeast states Thursday afternoon into Thursday night.

Forecast Map (Thursday)
Forecast Map (Thursday)

As the low moves away a band of heavy snow may develop on the back side.  This could deliver some heavy/wet snow for a time over Hampton Roads.

Future Trak (Thursday Morning)

Future Trak already kicks the precip out by 6am, but some other models linger it a little longer.  Either way we’ll be dry and cold then from Thursday afternoon into the weekend.  Highs will be in the low-mid 30s Thursday afternoon.  Upper 20s Friday and Saturday.  However, by early next week the cold will finally break.  Highs could rise to the low 50s by Monday.

So by now you are suggesting that I quit beating around the bush and get to the snow totals forecast.  Ok…

The models aren’t all over the place, but they are definitely not in agreement.  The European model has had some decent amounts. Our lower resolution version of this has shown about 1-2″ for the event.

Snow Forecast (European Model)

A higher resolution version that I’ve seen (and many others) has about 3-5″ over Hampton Roads with the 1-2″ zone inland.  Keep in mind that many times it hasn’t handled mix situations too well.  So I wonder if that has been accounted for in the higher numbers. The GFS model has about 1-2″.

Snow Forecast (GFS Model)

A higher resolution version of that has more in the way of 2-3″ over Hampton Roads, and higher amounts a little more inland. Finally, there is the higher resolution models. This is where it gets complicated.  The high resolution NAM (4km) doesn’t show much of anything until early Thursday morning.  Then it has a few hours of light snow before ending in the late morning.  That wouldn’t add up to too much unless the heavy band isn’t represented well on that model.  Our Future Trak computer model hasn’t shown much since I got in.  In fact, it’s mid-morning update (took out all of the snow).  I didn’t buy that at all.  So I reverted it back to the previous version.  Here is that solution:

Future Trak (Snow Forecast)

That is also what I showed of all of the Future Trak graphics in this blog.  I didn’t show the NAM (operational).  I just looked at it’s morning run (12Z).  It strengthens the low much more now, and that increases the snow totals to a few inches in our region.  It has about 5-6″ in Hampton Roads via the raw output.  The higher resolution model hasn’t come in yet.

So with all of that…Here’s my snow forecast map for this morning:

Snow Forecast

It’s in the middle of a lot of these numbers.  The National Weather Service was higher with more of a 5″ zone in my 2-4″.   At this point the amounts are tricky.

Here’s my final thoughts.  There will likely be accumulating snow in the region.  This will probably be more of a mix late Wednesday, but it will probably become a band of snow late Wednesday night into Thursday morning.  The band could easily be some heavy/wet snow. That could easily increase the totals on my map.  However, the low could also move faster to the north.  This would turn the wind to out of the northwest sooner, and that could wrap up the snow sooner. The European model might not be handling the wintry mix in its solution, but I definitely think there will be more moisture than the higher resolution model show.  We still have some time.  This is still about 30-40 hours away as I write this.  There is a Winter Storm Watch in effect for most of the region for that time-frame.

Winter Storm Watch

Schools and roads will likely be impacted Thursday morning.  How many and how long will depend on the snow totals.

Stay tuned for updates.

Meteorologist: Jeremy Wheeler

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