After a taste of spring today, it will be back to reality tomorrow. Winter returns with a vengeance! A cold front will be moving into the region tonight, so expect temperatures to gradually drop into the upper 30s and lower 40s by tomorrow morning. Winter Weather Advisories have been posted for areas from Williamsburg and points northward from 6 AM Thursday to 12 AM Friday.
These areas in purple have the highest chances of seeing minor snow accumulations because these areas will be colder and will probably see the mix change over to ALL snow at some point. Let me explain. Let’s talk about tonight first. Rain will develop north of metro after 9 PM and then spread southward overnight. Rain is likely tomorrow morning as temperatures will be hovering in the upper 30s and lower 40s at that point. Here is what Future Trak has at 7 AM.
Notice how the changeover from rain to a mix of rain/sleet/snow starts around 12 PM, if not a little bit earlier across our northern zones.
That mix line will move southward into the metro area before the evening commute, so your commute WILL BE impacted.
Any snow/sleet that mixes in and falls with the rain will melt as it falls to the ground. Keep in mind that the roads and sidewalks will be wet. So we are thinking that most of the snow should melt on contact. Notice that the mix has changed over to all snow for Williamsburg, the Middle Peninsula, Northern Neck and the Eastern Shore. These areas could see some minor accumulations and some of the snow may stick to the roads initially if the snow comes down heavy enough. The wintry weather will taper off from north to south Thursday night and should end by midnight for everyone.
There are some computer models out there that have a colder and wetter solution, indicating higher snow totals. But a computer model can not predict what happens when the snow hits the ground (whether it accumulates or melts). Plus the ground temperatures probably warmed up a little bit today after seeing temperatures in the 60s and 70s. Northern zones only saw highs in the 50s, so not much of a warm-up there. We take everything into consideration and make our forecast. Here is our latest thinking.
North Carolina: Expect mostly rain with some sleet mixing in during the afternoon.
Southside: Morning rain changing over to a mix of rain/sleet/snow during the afternoon. Any snow that falls with rain or sleet will melt once it hits the ground. There is a small window where the Southside could see all snow late in the day. If so, we could see a dusting to 1″ on grassy areas, decks and cars. Inland counties could see a little bit more. I think roads will just be wet, instead of snow covered.
Peninsula: Expect morning rain, changing over to a mix of rain/sleet/snow and then changing over to all snow. 1-2 inches will be possible, but mainly on grassy areas, decks and cars. I think most roads will be wet.
Middle Peninsula, Northern Neck, Eastern Shore: Early morning rain changing over to a rain/sleet/snow mix around Noon, then changing over to ALL snow during the afternoon. At this point, the snow will accumulate and it could cover the roads if the snow comes down heavy enough. 2-3 inches are possible with isolated higher totals if the change over to all snow happens a bit earlier in the day.
Some of you may have seen images showing more snow for your city on social media. Just remember…these images are usually the output of just 1 computer model run. These images do not represent a forecast. We look at many computer models to make a forecast and each model updates several times a day. Bottom line: This is NOT going to be a BIG storm for us. YES, it will impact your evening commute and could slow you down, especially across our northern zones. The bigger story will be the COLD weather returning! In a 24-hour period, temperatures will drop a good 30-40 degrees. That is a HUGE drop. Some folks have asked what the biggest temperature drop is here in Hampton Roads. I asked the National Weather Service in Wakefield the same question. They told me that last March 2-3, temperatures dropped from 72° t0 28°. That is a 44° drop in less than 24 hours. Another notable time was back on December 15, 1901, when temperatures dropped from 69° to 22° in a 24-hour period. That is a 47° drop!
Temperatures will drop into the teens and 20s by Friday morning, so any slush or standing water will re-freeze tomorrow night. We may have some icy spots Friday morning and wind chill values will be in the single digits. So take your winter coat and your winter boots back out of the closet! Highs Friday afternoon will only rise to around 30°. Warmer weather arrives by the weekend!
-Meteorologist Tiffany Savona