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Late week winter storm could be significant in Virginia

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RICHMOND, Va. -- A system currently located in the Pacific Ocean and south of Alaska will track across the country this week, arriving in our region by daybreak Friday. We would like to stress that the system is over 3,000 miles away and many aspects about this storm will change over the coming days.

The computer models we use produce forecasts based on the data fed into them, and the system is now in an area where data collection is not plentiful. As the storm moves ashore, it will get into a better data network, and this will add more clarity as more information becomes available.  So, if you are surfing the web and seeing snowfall accumulation maps, keep in mind that those forecast solutions are way too specific at this point. A change in storm track of just 50 miles will shift the rain/snow line and make a huge difference in any accumulations.

So far this winter, although computer models blew many systems up into major storms, we had mentioned that none of those would be of any major concern. However, signs are pointing to this system being different.

As of now, it looks like the storm will approach from the southwest on Friday morning.  Snow or a wintry mix is likely across the region Friday morning.  We could potentially see a few inches of snow before any mixing takes place. As some warmer air is drawn in from the southeast, we'll likely see a changeover to rain Friday afternoon/evening for the metro and points south and east.  Areas northwest of Richmond may stay as a mix or snow through the afternoon.

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As the storm passes south of our area later Friday night and early Saturday morning, colder air will push back in from the northwest. This will gradually change any rain back to a mix and then snow from west to east overnight or very early in the morning.

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As the storm moves east of the area, it could stay close enough to the coast for us to get multiple hours of snowfall on Saturday.  This point of the timeline is critical since the storm's location and speed will be the difference between a light snowfall and a heavy one.

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If the storm tracks farther north, it would mean more rain for more of the area.  If the storm tracks a little farther south, it would mean more snow for much of the area.  But, if the track changes much more to the south, we may only get grazed by the storm for a shorter period of time.

Obviously, many things will change over the next few days, and we will continue to update you on-air and online the rest of the week.

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