Vir­ginia’s south­ern half should get brunt of snow

Richmond Times-Dispatch Weekend - - FRONT PAGE - John Boyer [email protected]­dis­patch.com

There are many rea­sons for win­ter weather un­cer­tainty in Vir­ginia.

This time, the main cul­prit is “the gra­di­ent.”

The north­ern half of the state may see lit­tle in the way of snow on Sun­day and Sun­day night, while the south­ern tier is pre­par­ing for quite a bit.

The In­ter­state 64 cor­ri­dor from Cov­ing­ton to Rich­mond is shap­ing up to be a bat­tle­ground be­tween mois­ture from a low-pres­sure area track­ing up the south­east­ern coast­line and cold, dry air from high pres­sure over the North­east.

That may re­sult in a sig­nif­i­cant drop-off in snow to­tals be­tween Ch­ester­field County and Caro­line County, and pos­si­bly some big vari­a­tions within in­di­vid­ual coun­ties.

Th­ese maps help us vi­su­al­ize the un­cer­tainty by show­ing the chances of reach­ing cer­tain thresh­olds. The top map shows the chance of get­ting at least 1 inch by early Mon­day morn­ing.

On Fri­day, the Na­tional

Weather Ser­vice put Rich­mond’s chances of do­ing so be­tween 50 per­cent and 60 per­cent.

Ar­eas to the north and east have much lower odds for get­ting past 1 inch, while it’s very likely that South­west­ern and South­side Vir­ginia will get that much and more.

The lower map shows the prob­a­bil­ity of ex­ceed­ing 6 inches of snow­fall by early Mon­day morn­ing.

The ar­eas with a bet­ter than 50-50 chance of heavy snow are south of Roanoke and west of In­ter­state 85.

A 6-inch snow­fall isn’t im­pos­si­ble for the Rich­mond area, but the odds were only about 10 per­cent as of Fri­day evening.

If any part of the state has a chance of see­ing 1 foot, it would prob­a­bly be in the Blue Ridge moun­tains or foothills south of Roanoke.

There will be plenty of mois­ture fall­ing on the Tide­wa­ter re­gion, but warmer tem­per­a­tures near the coast will keep it mostly in the form of rain.

Tim­ing

The lead­ing edge of the snow will lift north­ward across the North Carolina line around day­break on Sun­day.

It may take un­til late morn­ing or the af­ter­noon for that snow to work its way to­ward Rich­mond.

Un­less the snow stays to the south and misses us, the bulk of the metro area’s ac­cu­mu­la­tion would oc­cur dur­ing the af­ter­noon and evening hours of Sun­day.

Some pock­ets of above-freez­ing air in the clouds above could turn the wet snow into sleet and freez­ing rain at times, es­pe­cially as the sys­tem ta­pers off on Sun­day night.

Dry weather is ex­pected to re­turn on Mon­day.

A win­ter storm of­ten brings sub­tle fluc­tu­a­tions in tem­per­a­ture and mois­ture, which can make or break a snow­fall forecast. Those fea­tures are also hard to pre­dict un­til they ap­pear.

Don’t be sur­prised if Satur­day brings a last-minute shift in amounts.

JOHN BOYER/TIMES-DIS­PATCH

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