Roanoke Times: Weather Journal

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Friday 03/06/2015
So, was that it for snow this season?
Posted: March 06, 2015 - 12:15 am

Our region's fourth winter storm in 18 days on Thursday hit quickly, but generally dumped 1-4 inches of snow and sleet in the Roanoke and New River valleys, with more to the north and less to the south.  Behind it, we will be waking up to temperatures Friday that may challenge record lows, which, for March 6, are 16 from 1960 for Roanoke and 7 from 1970 for Blacksburg. After sub-freezing highs or very nearly so on Friday, the weather turns milder, really throughout the foreseeable future.

Wednesday 03/04/2015
Snow/sleet episode winding down a little early in Roanoke/New River valleys
Updated: March 05, 2015 - 3:47 pm

UPDATE 3:45: The heaviest band of precipitation is now east of Roanoke, with a mix of snow and sleet continuing in the Piedmont counties. Some light precipitation has re-developed to the west, and there a couple of bands in West Virginia and Ohio to watch this evening, but the bulk of the heaviest snow and sleet has moved east of the Roanoke Valley and Blue Ridge.  Any additional accumulation will likely be minimal, a half-inch or less. END UPDATE

Tuesday 03/03/2015
Milder for a day, then winter returns with snow/sleet mix on Thursday
Updated: March 04, 2015 - 3:02 pm

UPDATE 3PM: The National Weather Service in Blackburg has expanded the winter storm warning a little southward into Alleghany and Botetourt counties for an expectation of 3-6 inches of snow. Winter weather advisories have also been expanded into Southside. There is a good amount of forecast guidance pointing at more snow across the region on Thursday, though there is still some risk of it being heavily sleet-mixed and therefore less accumulation (but still just as treacherous, if not more so). I'm thinking a 3-5-inch snow may be reasonable even down to the U.S. 460 corridor (Blacksburg-Roanoke-Bedford-Lynchburg) based on some of the latest data. I'll have a fresh blog post late this evening. END UPDATE

Heavy rain, 60 degrees possible Wednesday ... snow chances grow for Thursday
Updated: March 03, 2015 - 2:30 pm

UPDATE 2:30 PM, 3/3: The winter weather advisories have been lifted today as little precipitation occurred and temperatures are now above freezing in most locations. There have been some changes in midday model runs that may portend a greater snow threat on Thursday -- after our warmup and rain on Wednesday. I've posted the 12Z run of the North American Model (NAM) above -- the Global Forecast System (GFS) and European models show something similar. For Thursday afternoon, it depicts a secondary wave of low-pressure over the Carolinas, which keeps moisture pumped into Arctic air, with below freezing temperatures a mile up advancing as far as the dark blue line. This secondary low is a key -- without it, the moisture might run away before much of the cold air arrives. If something like this is realized, a significant snowfall of several inches could occur Thursday -- mixed with sleet and freezing rain early. (A winter storm watch has been issued for Bath, Rockbridge, Amherst counties and northward -- this might expand southward if current trends continue.) Something to keep an eye on as a complex, dynamic weather situation unfolds. It should be noted there are flood watches out for counties west of I-77 on Wednesday as the quick shot of milder air and possible heavy rain on top of melting snowpack may send some creeks and rivers over their banks. Temperatures will warm through the evening and might reach 60 in some areas on Wednesday before doing an about-face and plunging early Thursday. END UPDATE

Monday 03/02/2015
Winter weather advisory issued; Buckle up, SW Virginia,a wild ride this week
Updated: March 02, 2015 - 4:43 pm

UPDATE 4:40 PM, 3/2: A winter weather advisory is up for Tuesday morning. It's a similar setup to Sunday morning with some light moisture overrunning wedged-in cold air. Most of Southwest Virginia dry-slotted on Sunday morning -- no guarantee that will happen again, but we are talking light amounts of sleet and freezing rain. Sunshine and well-above freezing temperatures today may help keep it from total ice coverage on streets if there is freezing rain, but there would definitely be icy patches in shaded areas and on many secondary roads. As noted below, temperatures will slowly warm up into Tuesday evening and then get quite mild on Wednesday with heavier rain. END UPDATE

Sunday 03/01/2015
Roanoke/New River valleys catch a break, miss wintry mix as historic February turns to March
Updated: March 01, 2015 - 3:39 pm

UPDATE 3:40 PM, 3/1: Winter weather advisories have been lifted for Southwest Virginia. There were icy problems in North Carolina nd Southside Virginia earlier, and continuing in parts of northern and eastern Virginia into the D.C. area, but most of Southwest Virginia caught a big dry slot this time. END UPDATE

Saturday 02/28/2015
Winter weather advisory issued as icy mix creeps into Sunday picture
Updated: February 28, 2015 - 3:37 pm

UPDATE 3:35 PM, 2/28: A winter weather advisory has been issued for all of the localities covered by the National Weather Service at Blacksburg for a light wintry mix on Sunday. Brief snow is possible in some areas at the outset, but most precipitation will be sleet and freezing rain. Amounts will be light but troublesome with the cold ground we have. END UPDATE

Friday 02/27/2015
Yet another shot of Arctic air ... but no obvious widespread snow threat on horizon
Posted: February 27, 2015 - 12:15 am

It's a day late because of the coverage of Thursday morning's snow, but here is the Inclement Conditions Index through Monday.

Wednesday 02/25/2015
Snow has ended in Southwest Virginia; cold days into weekend
Updated: February 26, 2015 - 8:20 am

UPDATE 8:15 AM, 2/26: Other than a few spits the snow has ended in Southwest Virginia. Accumulations generally near 3-4-inches along U.S. 460 corridor from Blacksburg (officially 3.1) through Roanoke (officially 3.2) to Bedford, with a bit more in several locations farther south and east, and somewhat less in spots to the north. A weak clipper system along with an Arctic front renewing very cold air may bring in light snow to the region tonight, but amounts will be minor. Anything that manages to melt today with slightly above freezing temperatures will refreeze tonight and may remain that way until temperatures finally get above freezing again on Sunday. Saturday morning lows likely dip into the single digits to low teens. Yes, we are going to carry this snowpack -- now 11 days old at Roanoke and 13 days at Blacksburg, the longest stretches with snow on the ground since the epic 2009-10 winter -- into March, but there may be some decently mild days (50s highs) early to mid next week. ...  I will issue new Inclement Conditions Index this evening. END UPDATE

Snow developing northward rapidly; 3-5 inches for Roanoke/New River valleys, more to south and east
Updated: February 25, 2015 - 4:44 pm

UPDATE 4:40 PM, 2/25: Our next winter storm is on its way, the edges of it already showing up in Tennessee and North Carolina on National Weather Service-Blacksburg radar, and there are multiple signals in forecast models that it will take a bit sharper turn to the northeast than projected earlier. In response to this, the weather service has expanded the winter storm warning to include Bedford County and the Lynchburg area, with the winter weather advisory continuing in most of the Roanoke and New River valleys.  At this point it's sort of hair-splitting across the advisory-warning boundary, as the weather service has 2-4 inches forecast in the advisory and 3-5 in the western parts of the warning. I think there is good and growing evidence that Roanoke will be closer to the 4-5-inch end of things by Thursday morning, with 3-4 at most locations west of I-81 and north of Roanoke to I-64 to the north and I-77 to the west, where there will be nearer 2-3 inches. South and east of Roanoke, 4-8 inches is looking more likely with locally up to 10 in Southside. It would not take much more of a turn to the northwest for this storm to more seriously pummel much of our region with widespread 6+ snow -- again, sort of the reverse of Saturday, with areas south and east of Roanoke in the snow bullseye rather than to the north and west. Snow start time is fluid but based on radar trends I'm thinking will be a bit earlier than was being thought earlier, perhaps by 8-9 p.m. into the Roanoke and New River valleys. END UPDATE

Monday 02/23/2015
Winter storm warning issued south of Roanoke; heavy snow risk may yet edge northward
Updated: February 25, 2015 - 6:58 am

UPDATE 7 AM, 2/25: All of the localities previously in the winter storm watch have been upgraded to a warning south of Roanoke with a winter weather advisory added for most of the rest of the Roanoke and New River valleys tonight and Thursday. Full new blog post coming in the next hour. END UPDATE

Cold returns; possible snow for Thursday
Updated: February 23, 2015 - 9:27 am

Beware of “black ice” on this Monday – or even plain old-fashioned white snowpacked-ice, depending on how plowed/melted off the specific road your driving on is. Also, don’t be surprised to see snowflakes in the air, maybe even a dusting at some spots west of Roanoke, though I don’t think this is going to be akin to the whiteout snow squalls we’ve had with the last three Arctic cold fronts.

Saturday 02/21/2015
Ice and snow is past, some melting will commence
Updated: February 22, 2015 - 8:04 am

UPDATE 8 AM, 2/22: The ice/snow threat has ended for the region with fewer than 2,000 customers without power in Appalachian Power's Virginia service area despite a night of freezing rain.  This storm has left a significant impact, though, with a snow slide (some are calling it an avalanche) having buried U.S. 220 between Iron Gate and Clifton Forge near the Botetourt-Alleghany county line and reports of roof collapses and flooding problems in the far southwest tip of the state.  Though temperatures will go well above freezing today -- maybe even mid 40s to near 50 if the sun can stay out a while -- unplowed roads in hard-hit areas will improve only slowly, as there is a lot of snow and ice and melting will just turn it into a big slushy mess. Even with 40s highs, most of the area isn't going to see the entire snowpack melt off today, and what doesn't melt will refreeze hard with subfreezing weather returning Monday and perhaps single-digit lows by Tuesday. END UPDATE

Friday 02/20/2015
Winter storm continues: More snow, sleet, ice into the evening
Updated: February 21, 2015 - 4:46 pm

UPDATE 4:35 PM, 2/21: Moisture has continually streamed through a region north and northwest of Roanoke during the afternoon, and will likely continue into the evening. Snowfall amounts of 8-12 inches are already common in this area and will grow yet more inches into the early evening. Father south, periods of snow are along the U.S. 460 corridor in the Roanoke and New River valleys, where 4 to 8 inches is common. Sleet and freezing rain have occurred at times along the I-81 corridor to the southwest, while there has been a pretty long dry period south along the Blue Ridge to the North Carolina line. Milder air has struggled mightily against the Arctic air today, but has made some advance and will continue to stream in during the evening. Many higher elevations west and southwest Roanoke are several degrees warmer than the city itself and other lower elevations, still in the 20s in the dense cold-air wedge. As the milder air oozes in, sleet and freezing rain will become more prevalent, and maybe even plain rain at any locations that warm above freezing. Fog may also develop where milder air moves over snow cover.  It's a long, drawn-out overrunning moisture winter storm. END UPDATE

After near- or below-zero start to Friday, eyes turn toward weekend winter storm
Updated: February 20, 2015 - 6:11 am

You will be waking up to a record cold February 20 in the Roanoke and New River valleys. Temperatures were already at record levels when it passed midnight into the new day. If it drops below zero at Roanoke, it would be the Star City's first official negative temperature reading in 19 years, and if it drops to -2, it would be the coldest February temperature on record, dating back to 1912. Blacksburg was already a degree below zero as the day began. The box at left contains information on the status of cold-weather records during this Arctic surge.

Wednesday 02/18/2015
Winter storm watch for Saturday snow & ice; record cold continues into Friday AM
Updated: February 19, 2015 - 4:31 pm

UPDATE 4:30 PM: The National Weather Service in Blacksburg has issued a winter storm watch for Saturday and Saturday night for potential significant accumulations of snow and ice.  (See the Snow/Ice rating in the Inclement Conditions Index below) The Weather Prediction Center has Southwest Virginia in slight to moderate risk zones for 4+ inches of snow and 1/4 inch or greater ice accretion.  I'll post a new blog entry late tonight or very early Friday looking more deeply at our second winter storm threat in six days.  ... Near and below zero temperatures are expected for Friday morning, setting new records -- possibly even a monthly record for Roanoke if it drops to -2.  See the box below at left for the state of several potential records at Roanoke and Blacksburg. END UPDATE

Bitter cold Arctic front bringing snow squalls/showers into the evening
Updated: February 18, 2015 - 6:25 pm

UPDATE 6:25 PM: Snow showers and squalls will continue into the evening, though there will be some decrease in intensity and areal coverage as the setting sun removes a source of instability. Still, with some atmospheric lift resulting from a upper-level impulse and the typical lifting of the moisture over the mountains by northwest winds, there may be a few brief periods of heavy snow in some locations -- especially west of Roanoke -- during the evening. Temperatures will plunge into the single digits for Thursday morning and won't recover much on Thursday afternoon, likely staying below 10 in much of the New River Valley and maybe making the mid teens in the Roanoke Valley. END UPDATE

Tuesday 02/17/2015
After snow, attention turns to potential sub-zero cold by late week
Updated: February 17, 2015 - 12:06 pm

UPDATE NOON, 2/17: Above is a map put out by the National Weather Service office in Blacksburg on Monday's snowfall. If your particular location got more or less snow than the color shade would indicate, just remember these maps are usually smoothed out for the preponderance of reports in a given area, so may not represent every specific point within. If you prefer snowfall reports in list form, here is a link to that.

Sunday 02/15/2015
Moderate to heavy snow continuing through the evening
Updated: February 16, 2015 - 9:03 pm

Storm Prediction Center issues mesoscale discussion for heavy snow with Roanoke/New River valleys near center of highlighted area

Winter storm WARNING issued; 6-inch-plus snowfall looks likely for Monday-Tuesday
Updated: February 15, 2015 - 4:03 pm

UPDATE 4 p.m.: A winter storm warning is now out for all of Southwest Virginia. The National Weather Service in Blacksburg is forecasting 7 to 11 inches throughout the Roanoke and New River valleys. Forecast guidance throughout the afternoon continues to show considerable convergence on 6+ snowfall amounts throughout the region. ... I will do a full new blog post late this evening. END UPDATE

Saturday 02/14/2015
Lots of windy wintry wildness before we can even think about Tuesday snow
Posted: February 14, 2015 - 12:50 am

There is a big elephant in the room named "Possible Tuesday Snowstorm" that could trample all over our discussion right now. But there is also a large polar bear roaming around a lot closer to us that is going to roar in our face Saturday night. So we'll deal with him first.

Friday 02/13/2015
Next week to 10 days may be about as wintry as it gets here
Updated: February 13, 2015 - 4:39 pm

UPDATE 4:30 PM, 2/13: One aspect of the next Arctic front that will be particularly noteworthy is high winds. The National Weather Service in Blacksburg has issued a high wind watch for the potential of 60 mph wind gusts for a big chunk of western Virginia Sunday evening and Saturday morning, including the Roanoke and New River valleys and counties along the Blue Ridge. These winds will be largely in response to a deepening low off the New England coast that will bring yet another blizzard to New England. There is also a wind chill watch for a similar area, for wind chill factor readings that could dip below minus-20 as most areas go below 10 and some go below zero on the thermometer, and the potential for up to an inch of snow mostly west of Roanoke with vigorous snow showers and squalls behind the cold front late Saturday. Again, Saturday during the day won't be a half-bad day, with sunshine and highs in the 40s, but the wall of frigid wind and sideways snowflakes will roll through during the late afternoon or early evening. END UPDATE

Thursday 02/12/2015
Arctic outbreak arrives today -- historic snowstorm arrived a year ago today
Posted: February 12, 2015 - 12:30 am

The first of two shots of Arctic air arrives Thursday with blustery winds and some snow showers. Temperatures will drop most of the day through the 30s and 20s.  A wind advisory has been posted along and west of the Blue Ridge -- including the Roanoke and New River valleys -- for potential winds gusts topping 50 mph, especially Thursday afternoon and evening. There may be enough snow showers -- caused by moisture lifted up and over the mountains on those stiff northwest winds -- for some streaks of white ground primarily west of Roanoke, with perhaps a couple inches on the ridgetops and west-facing slopes near the West Virginia state line and west of Interstate 77.  You may see some flakes blowing through the air in the Roanoke Valley at times. Widespread lows in the single digits and teens will occur Friday and Saturday mornings -- and some may dip to near or below zero west of Roanoke, with single digits to near 10 elsewhere, by Sunday and Monday morning. The Inclement Conditions Index is below -- after a bit of looking back to a year ago on this day.

Tuesday 02/10/2015
Major Arctic air blast may last several days
Updated: February 10, 2015 - 10:54 pm

UPDATE 10:50 PM, 2/10: Enjoy Wednesday's somewhat mild highs in the low to mid 50s -- it'll likely be the last time in at least a week, maybe two, that we'll see temperatures like that. The cold front arrives early Thursday with blustery cold and perhaps some mountain snow showers. ... My Wednesday Weather Journal column looks at both Boston's snow blitz and our ongoing snow dearth. END UPDATE

Monday 02/09/2015
A little more mild weather this week before late-week Arctic blast
Posted: February 09, 2015 - 12:15 am

Sunday's high temperature soared into record territory at Blacksburg, with the high of 63 topping the 61 recorded on Feb. 8 in 2009. Roanoke didn't set a record, which stands at 73 from 1925, but the high of 69 was 21 degrees above normal. We're likely done with record and near-record highs after Monday's cold front, but will still have some fairly mild weather at midweek before Arctic air comes roaring back in for the weekend.

Friday 02/06/2015
Nice weekend to get outside in Southwest Virginia
Posted: February 06, 2015 - 7:00 pm

If you didn't get a chance to see The Weather Channel's live broadcasts from Virginia Tech on Friday morning, linked here is one of the segments.  You'll see Weather Channel producer Kathryn Prociv (VT grad) guiding on-air meteorologists Jim Cantore and Greg Forbes as they walk through the 3-D presentation of the May 20, 2013, Moore, Oklahoma, tornado, with the video image one of them is seeing also visible. Whatever you may think of The Weather Channel -- heck, I've had my own moments of criticizing it --  certainly this was an amazing opportunity for Virginia Tech's young meteorology program (as well as  the Institute for Creativity, Arts and Technology, site of the "Cube") to gain some tremendous national exposure. (Also, here is a link to a Roanoke Times article by reporter Carmen Forman -- who happend to live very close to Moore when it was hit -- about Friday's visit by The Weather Channel at Virginia Tech)

Thursday 02/05/2015
The Weather Channel broadcasting live from Blacksburg on Friday morning
Posted: February 05, 2015 - 2:45 pm

If you see Jim Cantore somewhere in Blacksburg today or Friday, rest easy, all weather mayhem isn't about to break loose ... (and, sorry, Southwest Virginia snow lovers, it doesn't mean your 2014-15 snow drought is about to be interrupted by thundersnow). Cantore along with Weather Channel severe weather expert Greg Forbes are scheduled to appear in a series of short live segments on The Weather Channel between 7 and 10 a.m. on Friday focusing on a visual presentation of the May 20, 2013, Moore, Oklahoma, tornado in the "CUBE" at the Institute for Creativity, Arts & Technology at Virginia Tech.

Arctic cold shot slaps us with little or no snow, then milder with rain by early next week
Posted: February 05, 2015 - 12:15 am

INCLEMENT CONDITIONS INDEX

Wednesday 02/04/2015
Sizing up the 2014-15 snow drought historically; no clear sign that it breaks soon
Posted: February 04, 2015 - 12:30 am

My Wednesday Weather Journal column (linked here) takes a historical look at the current snow drought in the Roanoke and New River valleys. The current 2014-15 snowfall of 0.7 inch isn't the least snow Roanoke has had through the end of January -- it's barely in the top 10 -- and it isn't even in the top 3 of the past 10 years. But it still meager compared to what is normal. Going strictly by history, here are the chances Roanoke ends up at particular total seasonal snowfall levels based on having an inch or less entering February:

Tuesday 02/03/2015
Thursday snow chance on the ropes, but not quite knocked out
Posted: February 03, 2015 - 12:46 am

Upslope snow squalls on Monday led to many 1-2-inch snow totals west of Interstate 77 and in the high country of both southern West Virginia and northwest North Carolina. Of course, Quinwood, W.Va., led the way in the NWS-Blacksburg territory at 4.5 inches. Also of note are the large snow totals from the Upper Midwest to Northeast from the latest winter storm, including 15+ amounts in the Boston area after last week's 2 feet plus.

Monday 02/02/2015
Windy with snow showers Monday; still some interest in Thursday for possible snow
Updated: February 02, 2015 - 10:10 am

Quite a winter storm is covering a good amount of real estate in states to our north, with amounts topping one foot in the Chicago area and 8+ inches having fallen or expected in a swath from Iowa to northern Pennsylvania and New York state into New England. (You can follow the latest snow totals here. )  A few days ago some forecast models projected this swath of snow as far south as North Carolina, and then the track lifted northward with time, so much so that Pittsburgh and New York City ended up in the mix zone south of the heaviest snow.

Saturday 01/31/2015
Mostly rain for SW Virginia on Sun-Mon; some wintry intrigue for next week
Posted: January 31, 2015 - 11:30 am

A day or two ago I mentioned that a low-pressure track along or south of Interstate 40, which runs through the middle of North Carolina from Asheville to Greensboro to Raleigh, is about where we start thinking about a west-to-east-moving storm system having a track favorable for significant snow in our area -- and  Georgia to South Carolina would be more optimum. The map above shows the Weather Prediction Center's projected track of the weekend low from Sunday morning through Monday evening, and as you can see, it is a long way north of Interstate 40. In fact, it's quite a bit north of Interstate 64, and darn near north of the state of Virginia. Each of the little colored shapes near the L's marking the low's forecast position are various model projections for the low's position -- and as you can see none of those purple diamonds are south of Charlottesville for the low's position on Monday morning. (By the way, the curly track off the Northeast coast toward Nova Scotia sort of looks like a continuation of this low, but it's actually a low that's off the New England shore now.) This kind of track will simply not produce significant snow in our region unless there were an extremely hard-banked cold-air damming setup, which there is not. This will be a widespread, large but not overwhelming snow event (many 6-12-inch amounts, locally more, but not widespread 12+) from the Upper Midwest and Ohio Valley into the Northeast. New York City might get as much snow from this as it got from the blizzard that mostly missed east, and Boston will likely get another near-double-digit snow on top of the piles remaining from the blizzard. 

Friday 01/30/2015
Low track likely too far north for widespread snow in SW Virginia on Sunday/Monday
Posted: January 30, 2015 - 9:30 am

This has not been a snow lovers' winter so far in Southwest Virginia, with a warm December after a promising start in November, then a January that has often been cold but without storm systems of sufficient strength and track to deliver anything more than light mixed events and snow showers (enough, at least, to whiten the ground in some areas west of Roanoke this morning). February is not going to start any better for snow lovers ... or any worse for snow haters.

Thursday 01/29/2015
Wintry mix creeps into Super Bowl Sunday outlook for SW Virginia
Posted: January 29, 2015 - 12:45 am

First ... for a little change of pace ... here is a link to a Google Hangout talk I participated in earlier this week with my fellow Virginia Tech storm chase trip leaders from late May/early June 2013. This trip involved the May 31, 2013, El Reno, Oklahoma, tornado which was the largest on record at 2.3 miles wide and claimed the life of famed storm chaser Tim Samaras, his colleague Carl Young and son Paul Samaras.  This is a pretty lengthy talk (nearly an hour and a half) but it gives some good insight into how we approach these storm chase trips.

Wednesday 01/28/2015
Blizzard buries New England; nothing resembling that on our horizon
Posted: January 28, 2015 - 12:30 am

Let's get one thing straight right off the bat: Tuesday's blizzard was NOT a bust. It was a record-setting event at some locations that largely lived up to forecasts in Massachusetts, Maine, Rhode Island, parts of Connecticut and New York's Long Island. Peruse these snow totals if you don't believe me. But, for New York City, especially Manhattan where all the cameras are, snowfall came in under official forecasts substantially, only in the 6-12-inch range instead of 2-3 feet. This was simply because the storm shifted east about 50 miles, a possibility picked up early on by the upgraded Global Forecast System (GFS) model and generally trended toward by other models like the North American Model (NAM) and the European. Extremely heavy snow bands hit the Hamptons but didn't quite make it into the metropolis. There are various analyses online about how and why there was only a paltry 10 inches at Central Park instead of the promised 20+, such as these by Capital Weather Gang, Gawker and Slate. All I will add is that it just underscores the approach I will continue to use on Weather Journal: To not only outline what is expected but the parameters of what might occur with only small changes in various factors related to a storm, and to give a general idea of what is more certain and what is less certain with a given weather setup.

Tuesday 01/27/2015
Blizzard for New England, but no big deals in SW Virginia through work week, at least
Posted: January 27, 2015 - 6:45 am

The blizzard is ongoing for New England on this Tuesday morning. The storm's track shifted east from some earlier forecasts, and that has resulted in a much less imposing winter storm for New York City -- you'll probably hear a little bit about that today in the media/social media. Regardless, it's still a very big deal farther east and north of the Big Apple.

Monday 01/26/2015
Some windy cold with flakes for us as big storm lashes Northeast
Posted: January 26, 2015 - 12:30 am

The Northeast corridor is preparing for a historic snowstorm that could dump 2 feet of snow in many locations, combined with coastal flooding and near-hurricane-force winds on the shore. Our weather with the Alberta clipper system that will transform into this mighty winter tempest looks comparatively calm, but there will be windy cold with perhaps some snowflakes in the air through early Tuesday. The twice-weekly Inclement Conditions Index is below. (This would be an easy 10 for snow and about an 8 or 9 for wind between New York and Boston.)

Sunday 01/25/2015
Clipper turns into huge winter storm ... but not for SW Virginia
Posted: January 25, 2015 - 10:15 am

Told you in the last post that this might be a special kind of Alberta clipper, and indeed that looks to be the case.  But Southwest Virginia is not in its crosshairs, at least for its major effects.

Saturday 01/24/2015
Wintry mix ends for SW Va; next system likely mostly to our north
Updated: January 24, 2015 - 12:55 pm

UPDATE 12:50 PM, 1/24: The winter precipitation threat has ended for Southwest Virginia today, and most areas that had ice have risen or soon will be rising above freezing. There may be a few snow flurries in the mountains this afternoon and evening. Guidance on the clipper Sunday night/Monday suggests it will, as I suspected, focus its main effects well north of our region, but some rain and snow is possible as it passes by. We appear to be in a pattern that will have potential wintry systems to watch every few days. Whether you get the snow you want or don't want so badly remains uncertain. END UPDATE

Friday 01/23/2015
Icky, icy mix continues into evening, Saturday AM
Updated: January 23, 2015 - 3:59 pm

UPDATE 4PM, 1/23: Milder air aloft has mostly won the battle, with most spots in and near the Roanoke and New River valleys now in rain or freezing rain, with some patchy sleet mixed in. There may yet be some snow lingering in some areas north and northwest of Roanoke. The attention the next few hours turns to possible glazing -- Blacksburg is at 32 and Roanoke is only a little above freezing at 34, so any slightly downward dip in the evening will increase the area that can get some freezing rain. Overnight and early Saturday, some deeper cold may work back into the backside of the storm as a coastal low forms, and that could spread sleet and snow back into parts of western Virginia. I would not yet rule out some slushy whiteness for Saturday morning where it hasn't happened yet -- but, of course, it's not looking like a lot.  END UPDATE

Thursday 01/22/2015
Winter weather advisory for murky setup that may yield a little slushy whiteness Friday/Saturday
Updated: January 22, 2015 - 4:50 pm

UPDATE 4:45 PM, 1/22: The National Weather Service in Blacksburg has issued winter weather advisories for Friday and Saturday (see map above) generally along and west of the Blue Ridge and along and north of the U.S. 460 corridor, including most of the Roanoke and New River valleys. This is for the mish-mesh mix of rain, freezing rain, sleet and snow that will develop during the afternoon and evening Friday and continue into Saturday. Because of slightly milder air aloft and surface temperatures near or slightly above freezing, accumulations are generally expected to be light, but could cause some icy or slushy spots on roadways Friday afternoon through Saturday morning. If the cold air is a little deeper over any local areas, and snow can last for a longer time, some amounts in the 2-4 inch range may occur, more likely in higher elevations and west/northwest of Roanoke. END UPDATE

Wednesday 01/21/2015
Watching potential for wintry precipitation Friday-Saturday
Posted: January 21, 2015 - 12:33 am

Well, what did I miss over the past 4 days I've been mostly on the road out of state? Some mild temperatures locally -- even above 60 I hear, a decent January "thaw" if not terribly long -- and 4 days of forecast model ping-pong on coming winter storm threats. It was actually snowing a little where I was (northernmost Illinois) on Tuesday morning as I left.

Friday 01/16/2015
Weather looks calm through Wednesday as I jump off blog a few days
Posted: January 16, 2015 - 7:00 pm

I am breaking from the typical pattern and issuing the Inclement Conditions Index for Saturday through Wednesday, instead of Monday through Thursday. Personal circumstances will necessitate me being away from the weather blog entirely the next few days. This doesn’t look like a terribly active period locally, anyway. I plan to resume normal blogging by Wednesday and the normal issuance cycle for the index on Thursday.

Thursday 01/15/2015
Not much inclement weather through Monday; January "thaw" looking shorter, cooler
Posted: January 15, 2015 - 12:15 am

Before getting to the Inclement Conditions Index for Thursday through Monday, let’s look ever farther out. There has been some discussion about a January thaw, even by me. It is looking more and more like this “thaw,” if it can be called one, is going to be short-lived and not terribly warm. Perhaps some highs in the 50s this weekend and then maybe again mid to late next week, before what may be a more winterlike pattern setting up toward the latter part of January. I’m very much of the mindset right now that this winter is continuing to follow the general script of the last two and will be “backloaded” with the majority of any significant snow and/or ice in our region from late January to March. I’m not saying it will be as much or more snow than we got in 2012-13 (18 inches at Roanoke, 23 at Blacksburg) or 2013-14 (28 inches at Roanoke, 34 at Blacksburg) -- or that it will be less, for that matter -- but there are growing signals we may get some high-latitude blocking combined with a southern branch of the jet stream to combine cold with moisture. As is typical with long-range weather outlooks, this is all fluid and subject to change, but I would say firmly that any “winter is over” talk floating around out there in cyber-land is pure poppycock.

Wednesday 01/14/2015
Brief but pesky wintry mix episode slowly melts away
Posted: January 14, 2015 - 12:30 pm

There was just enough cold air and just enough moisture for quite a mess on area roads this morning, as a skim of light snow covered a thin layer of glaze ice and/or sleet. Fortunately, there have so far been no serious weather-related accidents reports (lots of minor ones).  The winter weather advisory has now expired and temperatures are warming enough for improvement on many -- though not all -- area roads.

Tuesday 01/13/2015
Wintry mix mostly done, but roads slow to improve
Updated: January 14, 2015 - 8:25 am

UPDATE 8:20 AM, 1/14: The wintry mix is mostly over for Southwest Virginia -- a few snow flurries or some patches of freezing drizzle are possible this morning -- but many roads are treacherous from a dusting of snow coating a thin layer of glaze ice and/or sleet underneath. Temperatures will only slowly climb today, so there won't be much in the way of natural melting until near midday when the higher sun angle can have some impact.  There may be one more brush of rain and snow late Thursday before a somewhat milder weekend. END UPDATE

Sunday 01/11/2015
Freezing rain advisory expires; maybe some wintry mix Tues-Wed
Updated: January 12, 2015 - 11:20 am

UPDATE 11:15 AM, 1/12: The freezing rain advisory has been allowed to expire. Any freezing rain now will be confined to very isolated pockets mostly north of Roanoke. It will be cold with periods of rain and drizzle the remainder of the day. We'll keep an eye on the next couple of days for how much moisture can work northward into a renewed push of temperatures near and below freezing. I'm not really expecting a lot for Southwest Virginia at this juncture. There does appear to be a January thaw on the way by the weekend into next week and perhaps beyond (see map at left). END UPDATE

Saturday 01/10/2015
Tricky ice situation Sun PM-Mon AM ... and maybe more winter trickery through Thursday
Posted: January 10, 2015 - 12:00 pm

The Weather Prediction Center map above looks pretty ominous -- a 90%+ of getting at least .01 ice of by 7 a.m. Monday bullseyed right on the Roanoke and New River valleys and the Blue Ridge areas nearby. Local National Weather Service forecasts (as of Saturday morning) are a bit more circumspect, even keeping the lowest elevations of the Roanoke Valley a little above freezing Sunday night into Monday. Really, this is our typical  borderline light ice/rain setup that we usually see a handful of times each winter. Moisture from the Gulf of Mexico will overrun cold air near the surface Sunday night into Monday. Temperatures will likely be near or just below the freezing mark, ranging 28 to 34 at most locations in the Roanoke and New River valleys and nearby areas. Of course, there is a huge difference in effects of 28 and 34, or for that matter, 31.9 and 32.1. And parsing those decimals is where the forecasting trouble lies.

Friday 01/09/2015
So it's been really cold ... is there ANY real shot at snow out there for SW Virginia?
Posted: January 09, 2015 - 12:30 am

There are people who hate everything to do with winter, and there are people who love everything to do with winter, even Thursday morning's bitterly cold temperatures. Generally, those temperatures are moderating through the weekend, although a new cold front passing through today may make Saturday morning a few degrees colder than Friday morning (with some gusty winds a few mountain flurries possible with its passage).

Thursday 01/08/2015
Not-quite-record lows this AM, but worst of Arctic blast is past
Updated: January 08, 2015 - 11:46 am

UPDATE 11:45 AM, 1/8: Linked here is a list of low temperatures from around the National Weather Service-Blacksburg's forecast area. Coldest on the list in Virginia is -7 at Ingalls Field, the ridgetop airport above Hot Springs in Bath County, and a rural site in Tazewell County (not, in this case, Burkes Garden, which was -5).  Official low at Roanoke was 5 -- record for Jan. 8 was 0 from 1970. Official low at Blacksburg was 0 -- record for Jan. 8 was -3, also from 1970. Roanoke records date to 1912, Blacksburg's to 1952. END UPDATE

Kevin Myatt
  • Kevin Myatt
  • Kevin Myatt is The Roanoke Times' principal weather geek. He writes the Weather Journal column each Wednesday in The Roanoke Times and advises the newsroom on weather topics while also working on the copy desk. He helps lead Virginia Tech students on storm chases each May, has edited a book on hurricanes ("Hurricanes and the Middle Atlantic States," by Rick Schwartz) and talks about weather each Friday afternoon at 4:30 p.m. on WVTF (FM-89.1).
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