weathermap Tuesday 110819

The weather map on this Friday morning looks similar to this -- but this is actually the forecast for Tuesday morning, with another Arctic front having pushed all the way to the East Coast and low pressure already in New England. This is not a scenario that leads to significant snow in our region often, but some snow showers may occur on Tuesday as a second -- and even colder -- surge of Arctic air arrives.

Arctic air is surging into Virginia on this Friday morning behind a strong cold front that moved through overnight. Highs today may not make 40 west of Roanoke and will struggle to reach the 40s even in the Roanoke Valley and points south and east, with widespread lows in the upper teens to mid 20s by Saturday morning. If there is any doubt that the growing season is over  at your particular spot, that will be settled for certain tonight. 

There were a few flakes of snow with morning clouds -- apparently even at Roanoke's official weather reporting station at the regional airport, where light snow was reported at the 7 a.m. observation. There isn't much moisture depth so any additional flakes today will be brief and very light, mainly in the mountains, but there has been quite a buzz about the potential next week when the second, somewhat stronger Arctic cold front arrives.

Tuesday's snow potential drew a quick surge of social media excitement when several forecast models made it look like a wave of low-pressure would move from the Gulf of Mexico up the East Coast, throwing moisture into arriving cold air, leading to the potential for something widespread and substantial. This looks much less likely now. Instead, the more likely scenario is merely cold air nudging into the back of a quick-moving shield of rain showers mostly ahead of the front. Cold air catching up to the back end of moisture is almost never a scenario that works for significant snowfall in the Roanoke and New River valleys and points eastward. Geography is a big key, as northwest winds bringing such cold air in dry out descending the Appalachian slopes. 

Locations west of I-77, the higher ridges near the Virginia-West Virginia line, and definitely West Virginia's mountains have the best shot at accumulating snow Tuesday. Elsewhere, the rain may end with some snow showers or flurries. It's worth keeping an eye on in case there are further changes, but the chances of a widespread, significant mid-November snowfall appear minimal to nil at this time.

In case you're curious, Roanoke has not had measurable snow (at least 1/10 of an inch) before Nov. 15 in 24 years -- the last time it happened was when 4/10 of an inch accumulated on Nov. 13, 1995. Blacksburg's last pre-Nov. 15 measurable snow was 6/10 of an inch of Oct. 30-31, 2012, with the backside spin of Superstorm Sandy. Before that, it hadn't happened since 1999.  Getting 1/10 out of a stray heavier snow shower or squall on Tuesday wouldn't be out of the question for Blacksburg, but at this time it appears extremely unlikely Roanoke will break through for its first pre-Nov. 15 accumulating snow of the 21st century.

What is nearly certain to occur will be January-like temperatures -- even slightly colder than mid-January norms -- with teens/20s lows and 30s/40s highs toward the middle of next week, after a brief recovery from Friday-Saturday cold with some 60s Sunday-Monday. It was barely more than a month ago when we were having temperatures exceeding mid-July norms.

There may yet be a wet storm system to deal with around the Friday-Saturday period of next week. The level to which that may interact with lingering cold air for wintry precipitation types is uncertain at this distance.

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Contact Kevin Myatt at Follow him on Twitter @kevinmyattwx.


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