This is going to probably be a fast changing forecast from tonight through Thursday.
Winter Storm Watches have been issued for most of the area, meaning that there is the chance for 5"+ of snow on the way. Augusta and Highland Counties have already been upgraded to a Winter Storm Warning because these are the areas where we have the highest confidence of the most snow. I'm expecting at least Pendleton, Rockingham, and Page Counties to be upgraded to a warning later tonight. Shenandoah County is on the borderline. A warning just means, yes, snow is for sure coming.
Let me first say that no, this storm didn't pop out of nowhere. At the beginning of this week the storm looked to stay to our south. The models saw it, we saw it. However, between Monday and Tuesday, the indication was that this system is going to track a bit more to the north. That's why Tuesday we had a brief mention of snow in the forecast for Thursday night.
Then things really started to get interesting as the models kept tracking this system more northerly with every new update. So yes, it tracked more to the north, and is becoming a bigger impact for our area than originally anticipated.
However, the area is going to be split with this storm. Everyone in the northern Valley towards northern Shenandoah County and Hardy County may actually say, "what snow?"
While the southern Blue Ridge areas towards Waynesboro, Wintergreen, and Charlottesville could see nearly 10"+ of snow.
This is going to be a VERY tight snow gradient, and totals will vary greatly within a matter of probably 20 miles.
This is our latest update to snow totals.
Yes, I know there is a wide range but that is how this storm is going to be end up.
If you live north of Rockingham County, I would not get too excited about snow yet.
That is part of the forecast that may need tweaking.
Does anyone remember the storm last February, where Waynesboro saw 10" of snow, and Harrisonburg barely saw an inch?
That's virtually the same type of track we are dealing with, so that leaves a lot of room for error. That's also why there is such a spread with our snow totals.
One other challenge with such a tight gradient, is if this system tracks 20-30 miles more south or north, boy are these snow totals going to change drastically. If it moves to the north a bit more, then Harrisonburg and Rockingham County will see more snow, and trend towards the higher totals.
If it tracks to the south a bit more, then anywhere north of Augusta County is going to get shafted with the snow.
One other issue is going to be that most of the heavy snow is likely during the evening commute time, limiting visibilities and making roads slippery.
This is a look at liquid amounts from NOAA.
It's a bit tricky to see but I circled out area.
It does point out how there is such a tight gradient from north to south within our area.
Liquid amounts range from .01" into the northern Valley and around 1.25" in the southeastern areas of Augusta county.
I know there are a lot of different snow totals out there.
This is the best forecast for our area, to the best of our ability. We looked at past storm trends, which models have done better for our area, and past snow storms and how this compared to those totals.
So a lot has gone into this forecast. As I mentioned, there is a lot of room for error. We will continue to update as we go through tonight and tomorrow.
The best chance for the heaviest snow is going to be late afternoon and into the early evening hours.
There are some really strong dynamics with this storm so, it's possible we could hear a little rumbling of thunder within the heaviest bands of snow.
Stay tuned for the latest updates.