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Southern reach of storm hard to figure out
Tuesday, March 5, 2013
You know that oft-repeated saying about knowing whether it will snow or not when you see it out the window? Today's a good day to haul that out.
Most places will see some snow today, but somewhere within the territory in which there are Roanoke Times boxes in front of houses, there may be a sharp line between deep amounts of heavy wet snow from minimal stuff.
Forecast guidance on Tuesday suggested this line was most likely to set up north of the U.S. 460 corridor, the east-west highway connecting Blacksburg, Roanoke, Bedford and Lynchburg.
If this holds, it could mean that northern Botetourt County could get 6 or more inches of snow while southern Botetourt County nearest Roanoke gets an inch or two.
But tiny changes in the atmosphere could cause this line to shift north or south.
A northward shift might mean little to no snow in much of the region, while a southward shift could bring heavier snow into the Roanoke and New River valleys.
In addition to watching out the window, watching radar to see where the area of heavy snow sets up would be a good idea today. I'll be following that closely on the Weather Journal blog.
A strong low will be developing over northern North Carolina today, near the Virginia line. Whether or not it snows, you'll know it by the increase in winds.
As this low deepens, it will pull moisture back around it into much of central and northern Virginia, where heavy snow will develop, especially in the northwest part of the state. Amounts topping a foot are quite likely over part or all of the region west of the Blue Ridge and north of Interstate 64.
How far south that band of snow sweeps is a difficult thing to figure out. And that puts the Roanoke and New River valleys right on the lip between a heavy, wet snow and not much.
Some of last night's rain may change to snow this morning, for an inch or two in some spots, but it's what happens with what circulates behind the low that will determine whether the storm can put down 4 or more inches.
Once this storm pushes east out to sea, a warm-up for the weekend will quickly melt any snow that does fall.
March does appear to have some more cold shots left in it, so it doesn't look promising for long-lasting spring weather to commence after this snow threat.
Whether we will have any more chances for March snow remains to be seen. If this is the last and it follows forecasts, it will be a bitter pill to swallow for snow fans left on the outside looking in just south of wherever the sharp edge cuts.
Weather Journal runs on Wednesdays.
Weather JournalForget showery; it's a rainy Tuesday