Monday, December 19, 2016

Looking at the Crystal Ball

First, I should have taken a few minutes to update the blog befor the litle bit of ice that fell. In some ways, that was the worst case scenario where just ..02 liquid fell at temps in the mid 20s..instant ice everywhere. I heard of 170 wrecks near Lynchburg,and I'm sure that was common accross the areas of Danville, Roanoke and Blacksburg too. We did have a region wide Freezing Rain Advisory in place..but people often to head , listen or no ice on their car from their garage and they don't really know.  Bad, dangerous situation.

Anyways,  I don't expect many any need to update the blog in the next month. It COULD happen, but it likely be a minor ice event. Long term pattern looks mild for our region without little threast of ice/cold before late January.

The pattern should/could change- starting mid January and impacting us by late month. However,I'm not totally sold on that yet.

SO, if you hate winter weather, no news will be good news. Once a pattern changes seems more likely, exect more posts about time frame and possible events.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Weekend Ice possible

We currently have a signficant amount of cold air NEAR us, but the problem is there is nothing to hold it in place. So, we get a few colder days, brief warm up and then back to cold.

Big cold shot arrives middle of the week and as it departs another low rides up to our west, just as another strong cold shot pushes in behind it.

All the models have cycled through showing a decent snow to ice, then down to mostly ice to rain events. Friday- Sunday Time Frame

OK Smart guy, what will happen?

The Problems

Timing of the storm-- The sooner the precipitation gets here, the more cold air in place and the better chance for snow before ice and rain.

Models often underestimate the strenth of cold arctic air so, as the event gets closer what seems like a rather benign pre dawn ice to rain event Saturday could end up a little more disruptive.  I will spare you the maps, but some of the data has the freeze line way down into North Carolina and then moves it in 6 hours to north of Lynchburg. This won't be a typical CAD(Cold Air Damming) but once you get north of the Staunton/James river areas- the tempature loves to hoover at 32 for hours in these events.
Possible Outcomes for our area (Lynchburg, Roanoke, Blacksburg, Danville)
Danville is always another world in CAD events and I don't expect significant problems.
Our norther regions is another world...

Most likely- Coating to an inch of sleet and snow, some freezing rain ending as rain.  Temps warm enough to not make it a HARD shopping day Saturday.
Snow/sleet quickly to ice ending as rain.

Possible: Snow/Sleet 1-2 inches- Freezing rain dominates and temps don't get above freezing until after the system clears later Saturday.

Not totally written off yet: Snow/Sleet of 2 or more inches that ends as freezing rain. Temps remain colder and much of the day would be well spent at home, off the roads.

I'd venture to say pretty good chance we get a winter weather advisory Friday night into Saturday AM.

Depending on timing, another glancing blow of ice and snow possible Monday as the cold air rushes back in.

Big Warm up Christmas Week! Winter makes its return Middle of January??

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Get your winter coats ready-- COLD is coming!


Significant pattern change underway.  From Today- December 3 till December 20th, Temps should run 3-5 degrees below normal on average.  The coldest days- may be 10-15 degrees below normal, a day or two that doesn't get above freezing several days that have highs not reaching 40f. 

I think we get in the books with something (Ice, snow) before this cold snaps looks to break near December 20th. The Mountains to our west will get several upslope snows before that. 2 windows -- Dec 11-14 and 16 to 19 look interesting at this point. 

Will update as needed. 

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Late Winter Outlook

 I was wating on a few more outlooks that would clarify some concerns I had about mine and one has still not been issues. But, Winter is here so I must blog.

There were two schools of thought:
1. La Nina after strong El Nino--- cold front half of winter, warmer later:
2. Warm early, colder later.

The bottom line is December looks cold so option 1 seems more likely.

Simple Thoughts: Slighting below normal temps, coldest month in December.
Snowfall- LYH 13-18 inches, ROA 16-21, Blacksburg, 18-23, Danville 6-11

Concerns: Very dry to our south. Meaning, if it's cold but it does not precipitate--it can't snow.

Concern 2: Storm pattern: Even with our 2 BIG storms that got most places near to slightly above normal, we had ice mixed in both events.  December makes it even more challenging to get " all snow" events here.  When 1 decent storm really makes or brakes a forecast, that's always a cause for concern.

General ideas:
Thanksgiving to New Years averages cold with a few snow/ice storms likely.
Early January pattern changes and we have more change.
If the La Nina mainains, often it means a late spring with more shots of snow in March.

Some General examples of post strong el nino into La Nina winters:
2010-11-3 snows in December, snowed Christmas Day.  Not much after that. (Blown event late January)
98-99 The cold was centered west, but we had a BIG ice storm Christmas even and New Years Eve AND first week of January.
83-84- Mega cold outbreak Near Christmas. Most of the area was below zero Christmas Morning.
1966-67 Snowy December. 6-12 inches of snow December 23-24th.

Legit strong cold front comes in this weekend. Upslope snows start -- some flurries may reach into the Piedmont areas (Lynchburg)  I think we will be tracking our first snow/ice event within a month or less (Not really a bold call on November 16th)

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Thursday, March 3, 2016

Winter Storm Warning has been issued..

I like the folks at the NWS over in Blacksburg. I'm not sure how we went from nothing, (under a inch or half inch, to a warning for 3-5 inches in these counties.. Patrick, Bedford, Franklin, Campbell, Appomattox and Charlotte.

Totals are 2-4 in the Blue and 3-5 in the warned area. 

The threat has always been there.. I mentioned yesterday how this COULD become a 3-6 or 4-8 inch event. With that, I'm not TOTALLY sold on a 3-5 warning event in those locals, but then again some places could end up with higher totals. So, bold call upgrading to a warning that fast, but the notice is short. And, there could be some issues still.  So, yeah.. they could verify but this doesn't mean it was the right way to do this.

Where are the models?

Most model data has a general 1-3 over most of the region. A few high res models have a 1-3 inches band west of LYH, a dryer slot near LYH and then 2-6 just east and south of town.

The GFS has been the lead model bring the snow in faster, colder and bringing the wrap around moisture in fastest. New Version Para totals:

Very broad area of 4-6 inches from 460 south to the NC border. 

My call:

Call me whiskers because maybe I'm a worrier. My gut says stay at 1-3, with up to 5 east of the Blue Ridge. With that, My official call:

2-4 inches region wide. Up to 6 possible in about the same places as the warned area. 

IF the Band that forms from the coastal slides west any more, 6-8 possible in the Danville/Lynchburg/ Appomattox corridor.  The 6z GFS is really close to this..

**not all the data supports 2-4, so this is a HIGH BUST potential. Looking at Radar, the snowiest models get the snow in here sooner and radar tends to support that. Schools may end calling it sooner too today, especially out west. Temps got a little cooler than modeled and cloud cover should be racing in**

Timeline: Snow may start in the Highlands and NRV by early mid afternoon and spread east by 5 to 7 PM. Heaviest snows out west will be before 2 am and Eastern areas between midnight and 7PM. Some rain will mix early on areas below 1500 feet and then along the NC Border till late evening. Snow ends 3-5 West regions, 5-10 east regions tomorrow morning. 

**if this busts- wave one slides to our north along 64. A few short term models show this. Wave two from the coastal doesn't make it that far west** 25% chance something like this happens and most places see under 2 inches. 

This is a day for frequent twitter and FB updates. Twitter: LynchburgWx, Facebook Keith David Huffman (would need to add me I think) and VirginiaWx FB page. Keep up the clicks on the ads if you like the efforts and forecasts. Share this for me!

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

If you wanted ONE more snow event.. read this blog!

At noon yesterday, we about bottomed out with the no snow camp. Outside the GFS, the other models were moving the one piece to our north with snow, the other south with rain and showing very little precipitation in our region.

We may have a true trend emerging. The NAM, which showed the north trend in the January event and the first to show heavier totals on the Valentines day event, doesn't want it to snow. The Canadian is also not for this storm, so these are in the no snow camp. However, the Euro model shows 2-3 inches and the MIDNIGHT run of the GFS looked better and now 6z run is even more intense.

Initial thoughts- I think a 1-3, 2-4 type event is on tap.It's not crazy to say this becomes a 3/6 4/8 type event based on trends today.  Flurries break out Thursday afternoon and then Late evening overnight, steadier accumulating snow develops until Friday AM. Thursday afternoon will have a rain/snow mix, some rain could mix in when the precipitation slows down AND it could end as drizzle. Martinsville to Danville we see a much rainer solution, but may end as a burst of snow that could get them in range of our target snowfall.

Greatest fear- Models trend to a more snowier solution, only to be a smidge too warm and then we get mostly rain. Especially east of the Blue Ridge (Lynchburg) Elevation will have a role in this event. 

WHY ARE YOU LEANING GFS/EURO- the trend has been for a stronger solution and the model trends are always more north.

6z GFS model run..

Total liquid falling- about .5 or .6 , expect much more to our south and east. You can see that this storm is blowing up RIGHT near our area.  Now, the bad assumption is to 

Snowfall totals from Wxbell

Surface temps will be near 40 when the snow/rain starts Thursday afternoon and evening. When the precipitation is heaviest, it will be right near freezing. 

Even if surface temps are OK, we are already on the borderline with temps aloft..

At 7pm Thursday, temps aloft are cold enough all the way down into NC, our battle is at the Surface

At 1 am Friday, Temps aloft have surged and mostly rain is falling just south of Lynchburg.

 at 7 am, you see cold air working back in from the west.  My assumption is that at 1AM, that warmth is still moving north, but likely slowed and then at 7 Am MOST places are turning back to snow. 

For you snow haters-- Look, if this comes to fruition, most will be melted by late Friday. 

There is a lot to be resolved still, but I think a general 1-3/2-4 event is on tap. We've got some wiggle room either way for this to be a bit more or next to nothing. 

As usual, will FB/Tweet out updated information as the event unfolds today. Keep up with the ad clicks! I do appreciate it! . 

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Super Tuesday has no Super consensus.

The noon model runs yesterday looked promising in that we had a general idea of what the storm was going develop and general range of 2-6 inches. It wasn't perfect, but a general idea.

Then the Midnight model runs took place.

NAM and Canadian split the storm-- one piece to our north and one piece to our south.

Euro, which was the driest model at 1-2 inches in our area held serve, but it's parrallel model which takes over in ONE week looks like the NAM.

The GFS has decent liquid getting into our area but the storm is faster and most falls as rain.

There are off hour runs of GFS and NAM.

GFS is faster, wetter and snowless because of warmer temps (Not far off from the midnight run)

There is also a para GFS, which 2 runs yesterday showed 6-10 inches across all of our region.

2 options.

GFS- while warm doesn had the system bringing us precipitation. This is faster than the models and still could bring a 1-3 inch snow fall.

 NAM like solution where the northern energy is separate from the southern and snow falls to our north and rain falls to our south and we are basically dry...(Maps VIA Wxbell)

If the models had held server last night, I would have felt pretty good that we see a 2-4 inch event around here. The fact that even the Euro, which verifies best at 500 MB is split between it's current version and upgrade is even more confounding.

The official position is:

I'm going to punt until the next model cycle. Obviously, when a decent storm is on the way at 72 hours out we usually have a pretty good handle on it, so this doesn't bode well. Having said that, I think we could still squeeze 2-3 inches out of it if everything goes well.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Possible Snow event Thursday Night and Friday.

A lot can go wrong still, and we are 5 days out.

First, another storm will impact our region earlier in the week and bring a round of showers. I don't anticipate severe storms with this event. 

A pretty strong cold front will push into our region with some very cold air for the time of year. A storm will form and impact our region. 

Model break down: 
GFS- Yesterday the model was very fast bringing in the cold air and pushed the low WELL south, it was a MONSTER storm over North Carolina with the heavy snow band reaching the VA/NC border and the 4 inch line reaching 460. Model runs since then lost the storm. 

Canadian: Pretty much has nothing. 

Euro: Has some consistency bring a low due east. There isn't much wiggle room at all as we are on the southern fringe of accumulating snows. I'm not able to post the "paid" snow map I get but the 4-6 inch line basically runs along 460 and basically at the VA/NC line there isn't much snow at all. 

7 PM Thursday- Low pressure is near Nashville. You can see a High Pressure building in as well noted over MN/WI area. On the precipitation maps, snow has broken up north of our region along the Mason Dixon line. 

24 hours later our low is a couple hundred miles off shore and has strengthened nicely. 

Many details to work out. The euro "spits out" 5 inches of snow in LYH and ROA but as the storm approaches, at 1 AM we are actually warm enough for mix or even just rain east of the Blue Ridge, but then as the low wraps up we kick over to a fast heavy period of heavy snow.  (* I can't post the pay euro maps, but these are the free ones in 24 hour increments that don't show precipitation or snow. 

From Charlottesville to Northern Delaware, as the storm blows up the heavy snow that blows up near us really impacts them an dumps 8-14 inches. 

If you don't want snow-- Speed the storm up and don't let he cold air get in place. THis would result in a more north storm track.

If you want MORE snow- slow the storm up, get the cold air in faster. Rather than a Nashville to Boone to Greensboro track, get a Chattanooga to Charlotte track. That extra 75 miles will make all the difference. 

The storm BOOKS out of here Friday Morning and Friday afternoon temps are back into the 40's via the European model.. March snows, in fast and out fast. 

My thoughts: There are some reasons why we could see a more suppressed track with cold air moving in. However, many reasons why we could see this thing trend 100 miles north and we just get a few rain showers too. No call yet, but my inclination is to expect a more northern track at this point. 

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Severe Weather Threat...

First, my Grand Finale is looking more and more like Delaware City or even worse, but I still have hope for the period Match 5-15. Obviously, The clock is running and every day the sunlight is a little longer and brighter and my time is close to running out. Snow Haters, don't spike the ball just yet.

Tomorrow: Our storm we tracked last week for Wednesday is now going well west and presents a severe weather threat. Now, there are factors that could limit this, especially areas along and west of the Blue Ridge. With that, I wanted to make you all aware of this.

Looking at SIM radar, it seems two waves of showers and storms come through, the second being the greatest threat to have tornadic activity.

This is Radar right around 5 with the second round moving through. 

You can see our storm starts near SML and strengthens as it moves rapidly NE from there. 

4pm MAP of greatest risk for Tornado..

One hour later  the risk has shifted east. 

I'm honestly skeptical places just north of Martinsville to just south of Lynchburg see severe storms. There will be a cold air wedge in places and the models QUICKLY move out the wedge and then stir up some storms. 

Not our area temps in the 40's with much warmer air to our east.  at 1PM

3 hours later, we've spiked to near 60 and Tornadic cells are are supposed to form. Now, I'd never rule out anything from happening but I can't remember a time where in our area that we've had a wedge break and tornadic cells pop up that quickly. I would contend that based on climatology alone, the highest risk is east of a line from Danville to Pamplin. With that, please be aware of all the weather reports and be cognizant of all watches and warnings issued tomorrow. If the sun pops out late morning early afternoon, it could mean game on. I'll tweet out and FB update information as it comes available. 

Saturday, February 20, 2016

How do you find Will Smith in the snow?

You look for the Fresh Prints..

Today should be a VERY nice day, temps up near 60. 

Tomorrow will be warm as well, but there is a shot for some showers in the afternoon, which could ruin outside time. 

Next weeks event: Trending more like NOT much of anything but rain. Anytime there is some dry air, a 20 minute sleet shower is possible and sometimes if it starts right around dawn, a little freezing rain takes place. With that, the bulk will be rain and it could be a big rain. Much of next week Sunday till Thursday could have some rain each day. 

How's the Grand Finale Looking?? I still like my prediction of one significant and one minor event before spring kicks in. On January 6, I stated no changes to my overall ideas for the winter, conceding that December was much warmer than I thought. 15 days later, we were on the Eve of our big event. 

If I had to pick a date, March 7th, give or take 4 days for those events to happen. (Let's say the week From March 4th to March 11th look best.

PNA: Measures ridging on the west coast.. looks positive, that's good
AO: Measures blocking over the north pole ...looks negative, that's good
NAO: Blocking in the Atlantic to lock in cold air ... looks negative, looks good. 
EPO: Ridge/Block over Alaska, BONUS cold air. .. looks negative, indicating blocking over Alaska. All good signs. 

If the patterns does not develop as I expect, we could be looking at a "Delaware City Finale"

Shortly after this, the pattern will break down March 15th ish... and Spring emerges. 

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

We're heading to the GRAND FINALE!

 Winter has one last stand and like a good firework display, the GRAND FINALE could be incredible for you snow lovers and miserable for you heat misers.

Growing up, I can remember 3 types of Grand Finales:

1. The standard. My great grandmother owned a house at Slaughters Beach, a location about 20 miles north of Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. The Fire Company hosted the fireworks each year and once the siren went off, the show started and it was a normal  fun grand finale to end the show. 

2. The Phillies game. My family went up to a Phillies game when I was 10 or so to see the 4th of July display. I figured the show would be pretty incredible and from the second the "Power 99" (local radio station sponsor) started shooting out sparks, my jaw dropped in amazement until the show was over. The Grand Finale is still the benchmark by which I grade all firework shows. 

3. Delaware City. One year we stopped someplace new because we were not going to my grandmothers. Some of the shells didn't launch high enough and pieces of burning paper fell in the crowd. During the grand finale, the first firework didn't blast high enough and each subsequent firework got caught in the wake and blew up. There was a ton of noise, but no fancy light show at all. I look back and laugh because it was that bad and such a let down. 

Winter has until about March 10th or so based on the pattern. I see three ways to have OUR Grand Finale of this Winter. 

1. We get ONE more storm above 6 inches and one storm below 4 inches. We'd be above normal snowfall for the winter but within the range I predicted based on the Strong Basin wide, but more western based El Nino. 

2. We Get a Phillies game with 2 or more events over 6 inches and a couple of other minor events. This will put us on the EDGE of a top 10 winter in our area snowfall wise. 

3. We get Delaware City-- Had a lot of potential but something goes wrong and we are done for the year snowfall wise. My winter outlook falls short, snow loves give me a sympathy pat on the back while you snow haters cackle into what could be a SUPER LA NINA next winter, which are often warm with reduced snow. 

Good news for those of you who don't like snow-- I think when the pattern change mid March, The End of the month is actually pretty nice/warm In like a Lion, Out like a Lamb. 

I'm going to hedge on a good Ole Slaughters Beach Grand Finale. You'll be impressed, but you'll know there were better events and better years. 

Next Weeks Event:

The weekend will be great with 60-65 degrees Saturday and Sunday. Some cooler air filters in Monday and while some COLD air moves in from the west a storm approaches from the SouthWest on Tuesday. 

My take is the best potential now makes this the "under 4" inch event as cold air is LATE getting here and we pull something out late, but the bulk of a strong and wet storm is liquid, not frozen. West Virginia into PA does very well away from the coast. 

What is needed: It is presenting as a two wave system. Wave one is all rain, wave two is rain ending as snow, some model data has 10 inches Roanoke/NV and 4-6 LYH. If we can get the cold air in faster and slow the storm up, we could make this a bigger event. 

On this map below, note how there is a storm over New Foundland, This will bring in cold air and you can see a high pressure centered over  MN and that SHOULD be pushing cold air in our region. This is Tuesday Night at 7PM.

This is Wednesday Night at 7PM-- Cold high anchored over Southeast Canada  and broad low over SC/GA. The map is actually very warm at the surface, but SHOULD be colder.
Note that 12 hours later, our low is NE of VAB. If we get This time frame, we could see a 4+ snowfall. Anything sooner, I fear the models would SHOW a few inches but we'd end up disappointed. 

So, with this being round one of our "Winter Grand Finale" I will watch this event closely. This will be a BIG storm for some areas.. Foot plus. I think we catch a little something, but the severe totals will be 100 miles or more north and west of us. IF that cold air finds it's way in sooner OR if the storm is 12 hours slower, we could be looking at January 22  all over again. 

If this falls apart, we should have 2-3 more shots at some snow and ice after this. 

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Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Storm wrap up and looking forward..

The GREAT storm has come and gone and WOW, we are right on the edge of damaging ice storm and we JUST escaped with relatively minor damage.

What I forecasted

What Happened

Ice pushed the limits to what could have been a damaging storm but the temps just warmed up. about 5 am, the ice stopped building up when temps hit 32 or so. 

Tonight could see a rain or snow shower, but I don't expect any big deal to come from it. 

Warm this weekend:

Saturday Estimate high:


Looking ahead: After our great weekend, a series of cold fronts comes through and then a storm is forecast to form along the cold front. The European model today was JUST cold enough to start as snow and dumped 10-15 inches of snow region wide. Other model runs are just off shore or a little warm. 

Now, we know I operate from a position snow is a good thing. So, if you don't want snow, hope for the opposite of this. 

1. We need to cold air to get in place. Some data suggest VERY marginal air temps with under full sunshine, the freezing line would be near Canada. However, VERY cold air is just behind this storm. 

2. We could hope for a slower storm-- If the main energy comes out lets say Wednesday or Thursday our odds are much better than if we get a slower storm. 

3. Sometimes model data runs a little warm a few days out-- so it could be a little colder than modeled. 

As of now, I'm not too crazy about this storm. This past storm I felt good thinking we'd get something, if even 1-2 inches. With this storm, my fear is by Sunday there is a primary low going into Kentucky (placing us on the warm side) and a second low forms near Wallops Island, meaning a big PA and NY snow. 

Even if this one doesn't pan out, I believe we have 2-3 more shots at something after this. We need a few more inches each location to at least verify my winter snowfall outlooks. 

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Monday, February 15, 2016

Early Morning update...

The storm is behaving reasonably well.. Here is a rough estimate of my snow total so far down on Timberlake road.

It's 4.5 in this picture and that was an hour ago. I took a long walk and really enjoyed it. Snow ratios are REALLY good now, north of 15-1.

Most areas are within our 3-6 range, I think that Northern Amherst and Down near Danville may need to catch up a little but outside of that, we are on target. 

This was somewhat bonus snows.. I didn't believe we'd be at almost 5 inches by now.  Radar looks good, with that I've seens things NOT behave before. 

So, down along the VA/NC border Martinsville east, another 1-2 inches. 

The 460 Corridor, I think we get another 2-4. Many places could exceed 6 inches when all is said and done. Remember, I'd always rather go up then come down with snow totals.

Once the snow mixes, it should shut off within an hour or two. After that, light freezing drizzle should develop mid afternoon. The cold air finally gives up LATE tonight, As late as 4-5 am Tuesday Morning, some places in sheltered valleys. I think icing gets to the point where we start to get concerned and then it changes over. Some minor power issues likely, so be ready.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

I Choo Choo Choose you!

Happy Valentines day one and all and if you don't have a Valentine, let this card fill that void!

Winter Storm Warnings are up region wide...

The Pink areas have been upgraded while the other regions are either advisories, or watches. We did hit single digits last night here in Lynchburg with a 7 spot on the board as of 5 am. Roanoke has been as low as 10 and I imagine one of those in between hour observations met our goal of single digit lows. 

The storm is moving faster. Start times in the west regions COULD be as early as 5pm, I think the 8 or 9 PM, the first flakes are into Lynchburg.  The earlier start time won't translate to more snow because it just means we mix sooner. Mixing COULD be in Southside pre Dawn and Lynchburg as early as 9 am. First sleet mixes in and then by mid afternoon we should have completed the transition to freezing rain in Lynchburg. Sleet may linger a littler longer out in Roanoke and other places along 81. 

Here are my broad ideas about the storm. My map may not match XYZ vendor, it happens.  

Some ideas and pit falls:
1. I think that the Mt. Empire and NRV into the Roanoke Vally, up 81 to Lexington are the Jackpot areas for snow. Would not be shocked if a person reports a 10 inch total that way. 

2. Some model data has had one maximum east of the Blue Ridge VERY south near the NC border and another NORTH of Lynchburg near Charlottesville. We could verify on the low end of the 3-6 inches. 

3. I think the worst ice falls in a triangle from near Lynchburg to Charlottesville to Winchester.

4. The window for snow is about 12-15 hours.  After the transition to sleet and then freezing rain precipitation stops. This lasts for about 8 hours. During this time, light freezing drizzle will be falling. 

5. Between 4 am and 7 am, places most places make it above freezing JUST as some very heavy rain comes in. Rainfall, falling as just rain could reach up to an inch. 

Cold air damming. 

Cold air damming (No, not what you want to say to the cold when it's 5 degrees outside) is cold air being trapped against the MTS, preventing it from leaving. Cold air is heavier than warmer air and is hard to dislodge. Sometimes once you're just 500 feet up, it's above freezing but down near the ground it's cold. 

Here is a 4pm map Monday, you can see the cold air holding WAY down to near Charlotte. 

At 1 Am Tuesday,  It's getting smaller. 

and at 4 am most places are above Freezing. 

What saves us from a REALLY bad ice storm is that the cold are finally breaks down as some heavy rain approaches from the west. Most of the time from 4pm or so until 1 am will be light freezing drizzle. Here is SIM radar at 1 PM monday, most of the precipitation as moved out. 

And at 7 PM

Finally, 1 AM 

We are fortunate that for 12 hours we have temps in the mid and upper 20's and it's just light freezing drizzle. Once that heavy band moves in, we are above freezing in about 2-3 hours. This is preventing a significant ice event. Places east of the Blue Ridge may see 1 to 1.5 inches of rain from that band. With temps in the mid 40's Tuesday afternoon, we could see about a total melt off. 

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Bigger than Michael J Fox and Celine Dion.

Jim Carey, Wayne Gretzky, Justin Bieber, this storm?

MOST of the model data agrees with the colder part of the storm. Snow moves in overnight Sunday and lasts till Noonish Monday before mixing and changing to sleet and freezing rain. Freezing rain and sleet change over sometime Monday evening or overnight into Tuesday.

The Canadian keeps the cold locked in longer, keeps the low south and dumps 12-16 inches region wide. If anything like the Canadian happens, move over Wayne Gretzky, we have another Great One!

The Euro still wants to drive the low pressure into the mountains and swing it over our heads directly.

My take is both models are having issues.

There is some divergence still on the storm track of the main low, with the european STILL driving the low across the mountains at an odd angle and REALLY warming things up. My take is to blend the models and really keep close to my forecast from yesterday.

Most places- Snow Develops near midnight Sunday. Snow lasts till about Noon Monday and then mixes and changes to sleet and then freezing rain by mid afternoon. Ice takes over and lasts till near Midnight Tuesday. Rain ends by Noon Tuesday.

Snowfall totals :Draw a line from Martinsville to Chatham 1-4 inches Southeast of that line. Everywhere else NORTH of that line 3-6 inches. A few spots may get up to 8 inches especially in the Mountains or where some heavier bands set up.

Something to watch would be a thin heavier band setting up somewhere. One run of the NAM model had it along 460 from Blacksburg to Farmville and dumped 6-10 inches really fast. For you NFL fans, if you think of the SnowGlobe game between the Eagles and Lions a few years ago, a 1-3 inch snowfall became 6-9 in a few hours from a band like that. As we get closer to this event, the high resolution models COULD pick up on something like this.

Ice Accumulations: .10 to .25 inches. Some minor power outages likely, but I think we warm just enough before heavier rain gets in PLUS temps push towards freezing quickly where freezing rain and 32 is not as bad as 26 and freezing rain.

Not a bad event and I have some work to do on my winter snowfall totals, so I'll take what I can get.

Our warm up is a bit delayed from this storm but we do get a few nice days over the weekend NEXT week with temps in the 60's.

I think Feb 24th through March 10th or so look cold/ stormy and gives me a shot a verifying my winter snow totals. I'd take that shot rather than having NO shot at all.

Friday, February 12, 2016

A Model Idiot?

The models are struggling with this event and it's not unexpected. With VERY cold air in place, being dislodged as the storm comes in, the models are struggling. I expect the models to trend much colder as we approach this event.

at 84 hours, here is the GFS (American model) It's trying to hold cold air in place to the east, but eroding it to the west. As a result, it's 31 in Richmond with snow and 40 with Rain in Roanoke (1pm Monday) This never happens.

At this point, there has been a couple of inches of snow. 

Here is the NAM at the same time. 

The wedge is in much better shape and we've had as modeled, 3-6 inches in our region. What happens is warmed air overruns the cold air trapped against the mountains. This reinforces the cold air to hold in place longer.  It would infer that snow would be here sooner and heavier. 

There should be some type of a 30 mile wide band of heavy snow that develops. Being on the southern fringe 84 hours, may not bode well BUT once it gets a full grip on the cold air in place, it may actually trend south before it trends north again. 

What does this mean?

Snow starts after midnight Monday west and races east by 3 AM (Lynchburg area) Monday is pretty snowy, could be heavy at times with 1-3 near the VA/NC state line, mixing early and 3-6  HWY 460 north. This will eventually mix and change to freezing rain from 460 north and back to I-81. Could be as early as early evening Monday, could be as late as Midnight. I think we stay below freezing until Tuesday AM.  If we change early that 1-3 south, 3-6 north will be the ballpark of total snow. IF we can cling to snow until Midnight or later, those totals could double. Then we tack on some sleet and freezing rain. 

Here is a sounding at 84 for LYH (1pm Monday). I've circled the temps.. the lower you go on the chart I posted, the higher the you are in the sky. You see some temps between -1.5 and -2.  I suspect the warmth comes in the area that is near -3. I would suspect this is at least a few more hours of snow. Height in second column is elevation in meters. This model isn't great at 84 hours, but I think the better resolution is catching on sooner. 

I will continue to tweet out thoughts as model runs continue. I do have growing concerns about power issues in the Roanoke and Lynchburg area. Even if we just get 3-6 inches of snow and then freezing rain, the weight of the snow PLUS adding on ice could be BIG trouble for trees and power lines. Double those snow totals and it's even worse

Thursday, February 11, 2016

One half second too slow, too fast and you don't quite catch it...

Long day of glancing at the models in between working hours ends with no clear idea. In the end, it's all about timing.

The model runs that are faster with the storm, bring us the most snow.  The models that are slower, because the cold air is fleeing fast end up icy and rainy. I just saw the euro and it's a nice compromise compared to where it was before.

The fast models bring in snow before sunrise Monday and lasts most of the day. By evening, ice has reached Lynchburg and the worst ends by pre dawn, if not sooner. (Little moisture left by 1 am, I imagine Freezing drizzle falling most of the night) Temps are well below Freezing as the storm ends.

The slower runs at times hold off the snow until Monday evening and then quickly break down the cold air wedge, going from a little snow to ice and then rain. Some of those runs have the bulk of the rain being Tuesday when the cold air is all but gone.

The key because the cold air is leaving is the speed of the storm. The slower solutions do end up with more total precipitation because the flow of moisture last longer.


Fast solution: Snow develops pre dawn and snows all day. Mixing first southside, then Lynchburg late afternoon finally into the Roanoke and NRV as it ends, 2-4 southside with ice, 3-6 LYH with ice, 5-10 with ice Blue Ride West. Storm is gone shortly after midnight, but I imagine some freezing drizzle and flurries could linger over night.

Slow Solution. Flurries afternoon Monday, some snow  early evening and then ice into the overnight, could be heavy, eventually flipping to rain. The further north and west you get, the more accumulations you get. If this pans out, I would see southside with little or no snow and some ice, LYH at 1-2 inches at BEST of snow and ice ending as rain Tuesday. Roanoke 3-6 with ice ending as rain Tuesday. These solutions linger rain or possibly ice into Tuesday Afternoon.

It's about a 12 hour difference in timing. We could blend these two ideas as our final outcome.

No real model consistency, but I just saw the euro and after being the SLOW solution, it has gone to the fast solution. The PARA Euro, (Upgraded version, still in beta testing) has somewhat this look. I won't see the Para until after 8am or so tomorrow. Before the euro, I was hedging a stronger front running Monday, a break and then more ice Monday night, but the Euro is a nice compromise. Euro has most places over to ice by 7pm Monday, but it was a healthy 3-4 inches southside, to 5-6 near LYH to 5-10 western regions.

For those worried about power outages if we see big ice, I don't think this is a set up for widespread power issues. Usually you'd want to see moderate freezing rain for house with temps holding mid 20's or below. This would have temps in the mid 20's sky rocketing towards freezing fast and HEAVY stuff falling. Yes, it would have SOME power outages, but it won't be 1994 all over again.

I'll tweet out something when I see the PARA Euro between 8 and 9 am tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Let me elaborate on Single Digit Cold and Double Digit Snows..

And how the Euro backed off a little last night.

We will get some very cold temps this week.

First, the event yesterday went as predicted with some rain, a little snow and temps did bottom out last night below freezing so watch out for black ice. A few flurries are possible today, maybe even a snow shower.

The euro yesterday showed low temps Sunday below 10 most regions and then a NICE storm that dumped double digit snows in our region. Last night's run had lows closer to 10, with the snow more like 6-8 inches and ending as ice places east of the Blue Ridge (Lynchburg and Danville)

Other models: GFS had a weak low to our north while the Canadian (CMC) had a look close the the Euro.

Take Aways: We will have some serious cold. The storm has some issues with cold air leaving, timing where if it's a day late we get nothing and there is ANOTHER short wave (Energy aloft) right behind it. The Euro ensembles look better for snow than they did noon yesterday, but are not perfect and I've not seen the PARA euro (new version of euro in beta phase) missed off the coast yesterday. 

I would classify this as the "monitor" phase.. not a threat phase yet. If it comes to fruition, it will be a Monday possible ending Tuesday, but a fast mover. 

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

The big warm up and then?? Historical snows in LYH over 10 inches.

We will get a NICE warmup a few days next week and other then the MEGA MALL snow piles, the snow will be gone.

A few thoughts..

Our official snowfall from the last event was 10.1. WSET takes those totals. I'd argue it's a inch low. They "only" said we had a half inch of sleet and it was a good 1.5 inches total from when I cleared to when it mixed to when it went back to all snow.  I think some of the wrap around snow blew away and they wiped the board to late after the mix with sleet.

Kevin Myatt from the Roanoke times had a blog about big snow events since 1947..

Roanoke's foot-plus snows since 1947
Feb. 20, 1947: 14.5 inches
Feb. 13-14, 1960: 15.7 inches
March 2-3, 1960: 17.4 inches
Feb. 7-8, 1961: 14.2 inches
Jan. 22-23, 1966: 13.7 inches
Jan. 29-30, 1966: 12.3 inches
Dec. 25-26, 1969: 16.4 inches
Feb. 10-11, 1983: 18.6 inches
Jan. 25-26, 1987: 13.9 inches
March 12-13, 1993: 16.0 inches
Jan. 6-7, 1996: 24.9 inches
Feb. 2-3, 1996: 12.2 inches
Dec. 18-19, 2009: 17.8 inches
Feb. 12-13, 2014: 19.0 inches
Jan. 22-23, 2016: 13.0 inches
Close, but not quite
Jan. 13-14, 1968: 11.7 inches
Feb. 27-28, 1982: 11.4 inches
Jan. 22, 1987: 11.0 inches
Dec. 7, 1995: 10.2 inches
They have 19 double digit storms since 1947..
I'm going to lower the bar to 10 inches and compile the same list of LYH. 
January 6-7 1996 21.1
Match 5-7 1962 17.7
Feb 11-12 1983 14.6 
Jan 31-Feb 1 1948 14.5
Feb 28-March 1 1969  13.7
March 12-13 1993 13.0
Feb 13-14 1960 12.8
Dec 25-26 1969 12.7
Jan 22-23 2016 10.1
Feb 12-13 2014 10.0
Jan 30 2010 11.4
Dec 18-19 2009 12.5
March 1-2 2009 10
Feb 1-2 1996 11.2
2-27-1982 11.7 
Jan 22 1987 12.2
Jan 25-26 1987 12
Feb 16-17 1987 11 
March 2-3 1960 12.1
Jan 25-26 1966 10
Jan 29-30 1966 10.9
Dec 23-24 1966 10
Feb 15 1958 11.9

Lynchburg has 23 double digit storms in the same time frame. They have quite a few bigger storms, but I think we catch a few coastal bonus inches here and there and grab a few extra storms that reach double digits. 

Looking at those stats:
LYH gets a double digit storm every 3 years while ROA has to wait every 4 years. 

HOWEVER, storms over 15 inches happen every 10 years on average in Roanoke but every 30+ years in LYH. 
LYH cashes in on some coastals that Roanoke doesn't quite make double digits, while the BIGGER more wrapped up events tend to give Roanoke higher accumulations. 

We warm up after the weekend and then another BIG cold shot comes in. Looking at some patter ideas.. between February 6 and 10th may be or next storm window. From our good friend DT at Wxrisk.. some of the model data isn't that far off pattern wise from our BIG event that just passed. 

That 5 days will be colder than the 5 days near our big event. At times, the pattern looking 2 weeks out has also resembled our 2 week stretch last year that had 22 inches of snow in 10 days. Point being, we don't know the fine details at all but the likelihood of cold/snow and ice are likely on the way back after a brief respite. Will start to tweet out if interesting model data comes out and will update every 2-3 days on pattern ideas until our next threat. 

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Post storm wrap up.. Important, read and share.

This storm has been fantastic. Hey, I love snow likely more than all of my readers and really wanted a record. Still, 10-12 inches across Lynchburg, more west in Roanoke and less in Danville is a big deal.

I will record this as 11.5..

7 inches before sleet mixed in.
1.5 sleet/sleet mixed with snow (Cleared snow board)
3 inches of snow after.

It compacted and drifted.The last bit of snow was good ratio stuff and blew around and compacted quickly.

The models did great in the BIG details days out. True story, I bought my one son boots who didn't have it when I saw this on the models 10 days out. My daughter also asked to travel with a cheer team to Hampton Roads area and said sure, but I think it's going to snow and be cancelled anyways.

So, in that essence good call.

What happened to the BIG totals? 

Short answer is we only had a liquid total of 1.29 in Lynchburg , 1.59 in Roanoke and 1.03 in Danville. Most model data was between 1.75 and 2.5 or greater.

We knew sleet was a threat. Dry slots.. always happen. We got them both and it doomed even a top 10 event.

Funny that all model data, even the "NAM" (North most model" had 15 inches, GFS had 24 and Euro had backed off to 20-21 inches or so.


1. Sleet.. We knew it would mix or get close. If we had gotten the nearly 2 inches of liquid We'd of ended up with 18 inches or so.
2. Dry slot.. The storm "jumped" to near the GA/SC coast early on but the development process took longer, When the sleet mixed in there was strong echoes to our east near Richmond and another band that hit us with the heavy sleet. Those bands somewhat died as the coastal cranked up and pulled our bands out quickly. I had anticipated we'd maybe mix we sleet, but we had very little relative precipitation in this time after the sleet burst. I thought, and the models showed us going right from the warm air snows to the "coastal" snows and that simply didn't happen.

Part one of the storm.. 4-8 inches, we got 7, Middle part.. I thought We'd snag 8-12 and we got 1.5. Part three once the coastal cranked up I thought 2-4 and we got 3. Middle part killed us.

Lessons learned:
Speaking of Lynchburg- our snow history is full of storms between 10-12 inches that were big, but not historic. Since 2009, we've had storms of 10, 12.5, 10 and today will officially via WSET be 10.1.

Since as far back as we have records: We have 3 storms over 15 inches "officially"  Blizzard of 1996 at 21.2, Knickerbocker storm in 1922 at 20.2 and Ash Wednesday at 17.9. There are 3 clustered between 13 and 14.9 and then an overkill of storms between 10 and 12 inches (Double digits always seems impressive.)

Considering this, It would have been more prudent to stay in the 10-18 inch range on most forecasts for LYH and DAN. People hear 14-24 and think 24, not 14.

Roanoke has some higher ended totals and 2 top 5 storms in the past 6 years, but still coming out bigger than 18 isn't common and likely destined to fail.

Letting the public know what is on the way when 2 inches shuts the city down is what is important, nothing more. It's always better to go UP in totals, not down as the event approaches. 12-18 conveys a BIG event and hedging for more possible is quite enough considering we've had 5-6 storms that were clearly above 13 inches in 120 years. So, I will only go 12-18 total snows in LYH and DAN next big threat. Roanoke-- Likely the same call. NRV and 81 away from the city is a different ball game.

Be easy on your weather guys- they worked hard on this storm and all storms.

Moving forward: Watching a system late next week. Not NEARLY as locked in on our area as this one because cold air may be the missing ingredient. Looks like a fast mover if it does come to fruition.

After that- I think we get a nice 2 to 3 week break from colder temps. I don't think we end up as warm as Christmas, but I don't foresee much to track in that time frame.

I'm not convinced winter comes back in that time frame as February 15-20 winter COULD return for one last blast through early March. e have mixed signals on that, but the potential is there for another 10 day stretch with a couple of possible threats.
In e

Friday, January 22, 2016

Sleet has mixed in Lynchburg.

I'm not sure what to thing-- it's a couple hours faster than modeled. However, thundersnow has broken out N of Charlotte. Once the system matures, we should mix out this warm later. I'm not 100% how this all plays out and I've tried to convey this all along.

I've got 7 and head reports of 7-9 all over the area so far.

Prepare to qualify...

Storm day is here and it's going to be a big one. I think we all want to see a top 3, if not BIGGEST storm ever in the region.

Snow was a little faster getting here, already a half inch or more in Roanoke and should be starting in Lynchburg soon.

No changes to my snow totals. I like where the models are.

Today- Snow, heavy at times. Best snows will be an inch an hour or so.  6-10 inches
This evening. Snow heavy at times.. there will be a BIG band that works through. If this band maxes out here, this is the difference between 16 inches or 24. Some of the data showed this thing putting down 10 inches or so in 3 hours. That's 3 inches an hour for you math buffs.
Snow winds down towards 4-5 am or so. 8-14 inches.

Tomorrow- light snow and flurries, occasional moderate bursts. 1-4 inches additional.

Slight sleet threat in LYH, likely some sleet in Danville, east.  Total 14-24 inches, locally higher. Danville east 10-18

Will toss out updates all day in between sledding and other fun activities. The sleet threat is greatest 5pm till 10pm..

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Shovels will be splintered, Scrapers will be shattered, records could be broken..

Much of the fun of snow storms to me is the tracking. The kid in me still gets excited when it when the first flakes fall, there isn't much I enjoy more than taking my kids sledding, and snow on the ground despite the cold makes me happy. BUT, when I get a good feel for what as storm is going to do and it behaves reasonably within those parameters and it such a good feeling.

We don't know the ending yet and last nights model runs are like a good movie-- you think you know what's going to happen but you're not quite sure. Looking at the set up way back Monday- I said the storm would trend colder HERE and they did. Now, we just sort out the details.

There are 3 major models I check (and a couple other I glance at) plus a few short term models that are important the last 24-48 hours. I don't just look at snow maps. I track surface lows, 500 MB lows, jet streams, 700mb vertical velocities..  and my favorite, soundings/Skew T to get a feel for the temps of the atmosphere all layers up to the clouds. Soundings are very important to figure out snow/sleet mix times.

Model data is VERY good agreement- Low pressure forms and once it's near NE Alabama it jumps quickly to the South Carolina coast and heads northeast to near Wilmington, NC to a point right off the VA/NC coast and heads East Northeast from there. The Euro finally stopped putting out 30 inch snowfalls and is in a more reasonable 20 to 25 inch range, the GFS had an epic run of 25 inches and other data falls in that range too.

I've mentioned the Euro model a lot. Last night's run was a more reasonable 21 inches. Our record snowfall is 21.2. Now, I REALLY want a record. That 21 inches is on a straight 10-1 ratio. If we get some fluff, we could see 25 from it. Here is the Euro with a snow algorithm that accounts for ratios.

If  that happens, we set a standard not seen for over a 100 years in our area. 

Here is a rough sketch of what I think happens over most of VA...

Most areas 14-24 inches, Locally higher. Some sleet may mix Friday evening . Danville to South Hill 10-18 inches, sleet will mix in. South East of Richmond, some snow falls but it does change to ice then rain, before ending as snow. They should see 3-6 total and have some sad kids who just want snow.

Snow start time is between 5-7 am in the west and 9 to 11 in the Lynchburg region. 

Two things that could go wrong:
1. We sleet more. Only one model has a warm layer and it's not that bad and mixes out quickly. If data moves this way, we'd have to evaluate totals in those regions. 
2.  We dry slot too soon. All mature lows develop a dry slot. This is modeled to stay to our south and east, but always worth watching. 

How to break the record:
1. No sleet. Obviously. 
2. Cool some layers of the atmosphere to maximize snow growth. 
3. Deformation zone. The epic runs of the Euro and GFS had a deformation zone (Cold conveyor belt) of snows that linger over our area. These are great ratio snows that are often 15-1 or more ratio snows. 

I don't make final calls. This is a living document and if we need to adapt, we will. 

My exact guesses:
Blacksburg 23 inches
Roanoke 21.5
Lynchburg 19.1
Danville 14.2

Thanks for the shares on FB/Twitter. We set a daily view record yesterday. I will continue the live tweets/ FB during model runs. May blog again later tonight but they end up not being read much storm days. Share your pics, measurements and observations on FB/ Twitter.