RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) — A WINTER STORM WATCH is in effect for tomorrow afternoon & evening for Metro Richmond. A WINTER STORM WARNING is in effect to the north and west. Here’s the latest as of 7 P.M., along with our snow accumulation forecast…
A clipper system currently over the Upper Midwest will move southeast and through the Mid-Atlantic by Tuesday night, leaving a swath of accumulating snow in its wake. Winter storm warnings and winter weather advisories have been issued ahead of this system, and currently cover the majority of the Commonwealth.
Cloud cover will increase late tonight into early Tuesday morning, with overcast skies expected by sunrise Tuesday. Snow will begin in the early morning hours across northwest Virginia, spreading into central Virginia by noon. Temperatures in the metro will reach the mid to upper 30s by mid-morning, but will fall as the snow begins to fall, and will reach the upper 20s by sunset. Total snowfall in the Richmond metro area will range from 3-6″, with the lower end of the range south and east of town, and higher end north and west. Temperatures will continue to plummet into the teens by Wednesday morning, with highs staying in the mid 20s, despite mostly sunny skies.
A dry cold front will pass Monday night, allowing the next push of cold air to move into central Virginia. Highs on Tuesday will be in the mid 30s around midday, then fall during the afternoon as northerly winds gust more than 20 mph. The reason why those winds will be gusty…the clipper tracking through North Carolina Tuesday, placing us on the north, snow side of the storm in Virginia.
This clipper storm system will move through our region Tuesday, bringing our first widespread snow of the season into the area. I expect the snow to start in the mountains of western Virginia during the morning hours Tuesday, reaching I-95 by Noon. The best chance of snow in all of central Virginia will be between Noon and 9 p.m., with snow ending from west to east overnight into pre-dawn Wednesday. Richmond’s snow should end by Midnight. As of now, I think nearly all of us (even those of you in southern Virginia not included in the Winter Storm Watch) will see accumulation around an inch at least, with a few inches of snow along the southern edge of the Winter Storm Watch area. In the Watch area, there will likely be bands of heavier snow that occur, leading to isolated higher totals near five to six inches of snow (but that will be the exception, not the widespread norm).
It may initially be warm enough for some rain, sleet or a mix of rain/sleet/snow, mostly southeast of Richmond. As colder air invades during the afternoon, the whole area will gradually see just plain snow. Ground temperatures will be initially be above freezing, but will quickly drop below freezing after a couple of hours of snowfall.
Snow should be steadiest in the middle of the afternoon, so the evening commute will be slick from snow.
Snow will taper off in the evening from west to east, leaving coastal areas around or just after 3 a.m.
These clipper-type systems produce a wide range of snowfall, depending on strength, atmospheric “lift” and available moisture. Weaker systems will little available moisture produce just flurries or extremely light snow showers with little or no accumulation.
Medium strength systems with adequate moisture, depending on the exact storm track, have the potential to produce 1″ to 3″ of snowfall.
The stronger systems with good lift and plenty of moisture, especially pulled in from the Bay and Atlantic, become decent snowfall producers. Snowfall accumulations of over 3″ are possible with isolated heavier totals.
As of now, the potential of at least an inch in most of central Virginia is likely, with the most common snow total likely to be about three inches.
The exact track and available moisture are key to the accumulation forecast.
Regardless of snowfall amounts, the entire area will see a punch of arctic air from Tuesday afternoon through Friday. Highs will be in the upper 20s and lower 30s, and overnight lows will be in the teens. The chill will ease next weekend.
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