RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) – We are tracking the potential for snow, sleet and freezing rain Sunday in Virginia. It still looks as though Sunday could be a big wintry mess for the Commonwealth, with a snow-to-sleet mix in far western Virginia, and a sleet-to-freezing rain-to-rain mix in central Virginia. The Richmond Metro Area would likely see several hours of freezing rain, with a transition to a cold rain by late morning or early afternoon.
Our exact forecast positions of the rain, freezing rain, sleet, and snow lines will continue change very slightly each day as we near this event. As it appears now, a significant weather event appears likely across northwest and western Virginia, with amounts of ice disruptive to normal activities possible in central Virginia. If you have weekend plans that involve being outdoors or traveling in the region, stay tuned for subsequent forecasts.
What I’ve put together in this image is the potential, and mostly likely primary mode of precipitation. ~ Zach
Scattered showers are possible Friday afternoon, but the best chance for rain will come behind a strong cold front tracking through Richmond at approximately 8 p.m. Friday. The best rain chances will occur from late Friday into early Saturday. The good news for the Christmas Parade is that it looks to us that most of the rain will move southeast of Richmond by sunrise. We are keeping rain chances very low for Saturday after sunrise.
Cold air will continue to move into the state on Saturday, with temps falling from the 40s to the upper 30s at sunset.
In the wake of this front, a strong area of high pressure will slide from the Great Lakes to New England. The northeast flow at the surface around that high pressure will create our threat for Sunday morning wintry weather. That wind flow will keep a shallow, dense and cold air-mass at the surface and along the east slopes of the mountains. We call this “cold air damming.” Another storm system will approach us from the west Sunday, sending more moisture into Virginia Sunday morning. Precipitation may fall as liquid rain, but then freeze on contact at the ground, where surface temperatures may be at or below freezing Sunday morning. Where there is deeper, colder air in the higher elevations of western and northwest Virginia, precipitation may fall more as sleet and snow. But our greater concern is with the threat of icing in much of central and western Virginia from freezing rain. ~ Carrie