Yesterday we did have a decent amount of snow. I admit, It was more than forecast. Some areas had 2-3″ of snow. The snow was not sticking for most of the day. For a long time the snow just was not adding up. During the early evening the snow started to accumulate quickly. Part of it may be that we lost the sun. Also, the temperatures dropped slightly. But during the day temps were mainly in the upper 20s. So the analog of weather during the day basically didn’t translate into last night. The models did a pretty bad job from start to finish. Future Trak did ok (see yesterday’s blog), but it was just too light.
Anyway, now we have another system getting ready to move in. Today we are in between systems. We’ll see high pressure, sunshine, and melting during the day. Highs will be in the low 40s. Winds will be light and westerly.
Tonight things will change. The setup is that an area of low pressure will form at the surface well to our south. It will skirt the coast and move offshore from southwest to northeast. It will push significant moisture up into our area. As the low moves northeast it will pull down some colder air on its western side. Winds will pickup out of the north/northeast. They will gust up to 25-30mph. Temps will stay in the upper 20s to low 30s between tonight and tomorrow. The snow is expected to move in after about 8pm. This may start as a mix of snow, sleet, and rain. Some models show a significant area of mixed precip which will once again complicate the forecast. Snow will increase between 9pm and midnight.
Future Trak (Midnight)
The snow and mix will slowly move northward. Snow will be heavy just north of the mix line. Our Future Trak model does show a large are of just rain over northeast North Carolina. While I do think we’ll see a mix of rain, sleet, and some snow there, I think the rain portion (green/yellow) is overdone. Through the night snow will continue to fall from Hampton Roads northward. The mix zone looks to stay in place or will sink south slightly. By tomorrow morning the snow will really stack up from Hampton Roads northward.
Future Trak (7AM Thur.)
Our model actually keeps the snow going through the early afternoon. Some other models taper things off around midday.
Our Future Trak model adds up the snow and puts out its snow totals. Here is what it is showing:
Model’s Snow Forecast
Now with the amount of time that the model has snow falling, there’s no way we’ll see 4-6″ in the region. It would be more in the way of 8-11″. That’s based off my experience. Still, it is worth noting. So that’s why I showed it. Here is one forecast model from the National Weather Service:
NWS Snow Forecast
So for now I am running close to the National Weather Service forecast. Here is my forecast map:
The light blue area is 1-3″. There may be even less across the Outer Banks, but there is an important caveat to that in the model section below.
The NAM model has been the most aggressive by far. In the past I have mentioned that it overdoes coastal systems. However, if it does verify, then we could be looking at over 11″ of snow in Hampton Roads. It is very heavy from before midnight through the mid morning hours. It is important to note that the 540 line is just north of Hampton Roads during that period. That is a thickness (of the 500 milibar pressure surface) that forecasters use to try to determine the rain/snow line. The lower the thickness the colder the layers below that level. Remember colder air is more dense. Anyway, it’s not the only thing to use when forecasting, but it’s important. There will be a warm layer aloft, but there will also be a significant/deep cold layer underneath it. However, it is possible that the NAM is suggesting a mix zone for a while from near the state border down into northeast North Carolina.
The GFS has a similar setup, but the 540 line is a little farther south. It looks like a solid 3-6″ of snow in the area with a mix also possible over northeast North Carolina. the higher resolution NAM (4km) has snow from about midnight until the mid morning hours. It does show a significant mix of sleet and possibly freezing rain over the Hampton Roads metro. It shows rain over the Outer Banks and parts of northeast North Carolina. Very similar to Future Trak.
The European model is an outlier. At least if I’m reading it right. It has no area of mix in North Carolina. It keeps things cold there through the whole period. So it shows about 7-8″ of snow for the Southside with about 9-12″ over northeast North Carolina. Yikes! I don’t see that happening, but if you combine that information with the other computer models, then you would have to drag the 5-8″ area southward. I’d say the consensus is running against that right now, but I will keep it in mind.
This is another complicated system. It was advertised by some models for days in advance, but you have to be cautious. People tend to forget the 8-12″ snow events that DON’T happen. Regardless, here we are. There is a high chance for big impacts. Businesses are already hurting from last week. Many parents are struggling to take care of kids that are out of school. Also they are struggling to keep them from getting cabin fever. There is a consensus in the models that there will be heavy snow from the Southside northward. The mix may reduce amounts on the Southside, but I don’t think it will reduce the amounts too much. Northeast North Carolina is the question mark. That area of rain and mix will really complicate things. It could even produce freezing rain for a time near the state border. Even into Virginia. I would try to get as much done today as possible because whatever falls will stick, and whatever sticks will stay. We’ll be dry on Friday except for a few flurries, but the highs will only be in the low 30s. The delays and closings will likely continue into Friday. As mentioned, some of the models show higher amounts than I have currently forecast. So the amounts could increase by the midday forecast. We’ll put an update out this afternoon, and maybe midday if I can fit it in.
At least we can look forward to some warmer temperatures next week.
Meteorologist: Jeremy Wheeler