WINTER STORM WARNINGS are in effect for Hampton Roads and Northeast North Carolina from 3 PM this afternoon until 7 AM Friday morning.
Strong high pressure to the north is helping to suppress the storm across Southern Virginia and into North Carolina. Dew points will be in the single digits across Northern Virginia, which is very dry air and preventing any moisture from moving northward.
Our Forecast: It’s important to note that the bulk of the precipitation from this afternoon through this evening is from overrunning — a combination of a temperature gradient, a front to the south, and meeting the colder air in place to the north, which causes precipitation to develop. Models DON’T do well with overrunning and in many cases, the precipitation gets much further north. This is something to watch this afternoon and into the evening. For this reason, we think the SREF Ensemble has a better handle on this system and has been very consistent.
4 PM Thursday Afternoon: Snow will develop by early to mid-afternoon across Southwest Virginia and Western North Carolina, and slowly push into Southern and portions of Central Virginia by late afternoon. Temperatures will be in the mid to upper 30’s, but quickly fall to around freezing once the moderate to heavy snow develops across the area.
By 7:00 p.m. Thursday, the edge of the snow will be along U.S. Route 360 corridor. There will be a very tight gradient between flurries and a few inches of snow. Richmond should see around an inch, but north of the city, such as Ashland, may only see a dusting.
Overnight: Drier air will work in behind the system and snow will slowly tapper to flurries along U.S. Route 360. Snow will continue across Eastern Virginia and into Central and Eastern North Carolina. Rain will mix or change to snow across portions of the Outer Banks.
By sunrise Friday morning, most of the snow will have pushed off the Virginia coast. However, snow and rain will continue for a few more hours across Eastern North Carolina.
GROUND & PAVEMENT TEMPERATURES: While ground and pavement temperatures are running in the 40’s, it’s very important to know that heavy precipitation rates help cool the ground. Once temperatures drop to near freezing, snow will accumulate on elevated surfaces. It will greatly depend on WHEN accumulations occur on pavement — again, precipitation rates” being the key term. As temperatures drop below freezing in the evening, we expect roads to become slick. Friday’s morning commute will be slippery with temperatures remaining below freezing.
Snow Forecast: As noted several times in this article, U.S. Route 360 is going to be the dividing line from several inches south to little, if any, accumulation to the north. While 2 to 4 inches of snow is going to be most common across Hampton Roads and interior Eastern North Carolina, heavier bands of snow could produce snow rates up to 1 inch per hour, from this evening into the early overnight hours. Locally 6 inches of snow is possible.
HIGH IMPACTS are expected across portions of Hampton Roads and Eastern North Carolina. Remember, anything more than 2 inches of snow is a pretty big deal, for a number of factors — including lack of salt and/or snow plows. However, to be honest, 3 inches of snow is enough to cause problem ANYWHERE, especially when temperatures drop below freezing and any moisture on pavement freezes. Slush and black ice will be big concerns. Along the coast, winds could gust up to 40 MPH, especially across Virginia Beach, Lower Chesapeake Bay, and across the Outer Banks. During the heaviest snow, visibility could be reduced to less than one half mile at times.