(Updated 5:00 PM, Friday, February 12, 2021)
The threat for significant icing continues to increase across Central and Southside Virginia Saturday into Saturday night. Scattered to numerous power outages are possible south/southwest of Interstate 64 and west of Interstate 95 and 85. These areas could see ice accretion up to one half inch. To the north, sleet will mix with freezing rain.
High pressure to the north will slide off the Northeast coast, with an area of low pressure to the west across the Ohio River Valley. This will help to surge warm air aloft with colder air trapped at the surface, resulting in freezing rain. An area of low pressure will develop off the Carolina and Virginia coast and move northeast.
- MODELS ARE SHOWING PRECIPITATION ARRIVING EARLIER… Arriving along US Highway 58 and 460 between 4:00 a.m. and 7:00 a.m. and 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. along and north of Interstate 64. Freezing rain will be in the Northern Virginia area by 11:00 a.m. Saturday.
- Temperatures WEST of Interstate 77 in Southwest Virginia will be too warm to support frozen precipitation.
- Locations ALONG AND WEST of US Route 360 (Tappahannock to Richmond to Danville) will be below freezing Saturday afternoon into Saturday night.
- Locations along the Chesapeake Bay will be just above freezing, however, a period of freezing rain is possible and could coat surfaces, before changing to all rain.
- Light freezing rain and freezing drizzle will continue through Saturday night and end by Sunday morning.
Ice Storm Warnings and Winter Storm Warnings are in effect across Central and Southern Virginia for areas along Interstate 95 west to just east of Interstate 81. For the Winter Storm Warning, there may be periods of sleet mixed in with freezing rain. The Ice Storm Warning is only for freezing rain. There are Winter Weather Advisories on both sides of these warnings for light ice accumulations one tenth of an inch or less.
The latest model guidance is showing freezing rain arriving as early as 4:00 a.m. across Southern Virginia. By 8:00 a.m., freezing rain should be near or just north of Interstate 64. Some freezing drizzle is possible across Northern Virginia by mid-morning Saturday.
By early Saturday afternoon, temperatures will try to warm just above freezing at the surface along US Highway 58. The difference between one degree at or above freezing will determine if these areas switch over to rain or remain freezing rain throughout the day. To the north, freezing rain is likely, with a cold rain just southeast of US Route 360. Across Northern Virginia, sleet mixing in with freezing rain could reduce ice accumulation on trees and powerlines.
By early evening Saturday, the moderate freezing rain will move out of the area. The models do not show (nor handle) freezing drizzle well, and there will likely be freezing rain for much of Saturday night into early Sunday morning. Even light freezing drizzle throughout the night will create additional ice accumulations.
At this time, the greatest chance for ice accretion around one half inch will be locations south and west of Interstate 64 and west of Interstate 85. These locations would include South Hill, Charlotte CH, Blackstone, Amelia CH, Farmville, Cumberland, and Buckingham. The threat for potential widespread power outages is moderate to high, with a moderate risk in the Shenandoah Valley and across Northern Virginia.
The power outage threat is high along and southwest of Interstate 64 to just west of Interstate 85. These locations will likely experience numerous to widespread power outages by Saturday late morning into the afternoon. While wind gusts will only be around 15 MPH, this will be enough to cause tree branches and limbs to snap.
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