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Winter Storm Warnings issued; snowfall forecast updated

Significant snow and ice expected Sunday into Sunday night
Published: Jan. 14, 2022 at 3:27 AM EST|Updated: Jan. 14, 2022 at 10:41 PM EST
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We’ll end the week with dry conditions with partly sunny skies Friday and highs in the upper 40s. The transition to colder temperatures will take place Saturday as a cool air wedge begins to settle in. This sets the stage for our late-weekend winter storm that arrives from the south.

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WINTER STORM ALERT

It’s official, the National Weather Service has issued Winter Storm Warnings which will be upgraded to Winter Storm Warnings tomorrow ahead of our late-weekend storm. This encompasses all of the WDBJ7 viewing areas which will be impacted by a major winter storm Sunday into Monday.

Winter storm warning have been issued ahead of our weekend storm.
Winter storm warning have been issued ahead of our weekend storm.(WDBJ7)

TIMING

START TIME: We anticipate the snow start overspreading the region from the south between 5am and noon Sunday. The heaviest precipitation appears to be during the afternoon into Sunday evening where snowfall rates may be intense, especially along the I-81 corridor. Sleet may mix in as well, especially east of the Blue Ridge Parkway.

END TIME: Any remaining steadier winter precipitation should exit between midnight and 3 AM Monday morning with leftover snow showers giving way to sunshine by midday.

SNOW AMOUNTS

Totals will be highly dependent on where the storm track sets up. Models suggest the bullseye may be along the I-81 corridor near the Roanoke Valley where totals may climb to near a foot in spots. To the east, more mixing is expected which would drop snowfall totals to a few inches as sleet and ice is added to the equation.

MIXING EXPECTED: What remains a big question is when and where temperatures will warm above freezing in the mid-levels of the atmosphere. This will determine where a rain/snow/icy mix line sets up across the state. This could mean the difference between one place getting major snow amounts, and others seeing less snow and an icy mix. Sleet is quite frankly a snow killer and can cut snow amounts dramatically.

For now, the most likely area to be impacted the most by the ice is anywhere east of the Blue Ridge. We still expected significant impacts regardless due to heavy snow, mixed with sleet and ice. Here’s the regional forecasts below. It’s less important to focus on adding up the totals. Instead, focus on the impacts which could last for several days after the storm.

Totals have been reduced slightly as more sleet/ice is expected to enter Sunday, eating away at...
Totals have been reduced slightly as more sleet/ice is expected to enter Sunday, eating away at the snowfall.(WDBJ7)

TEMPERATURES

Temperatures will be in the 20s leading up to the storm which should allow for sticking immediately as snow begins to fall. In fact, cold air will be funneled in from the north during the event. This could allow for decent snow ratios from the initial burst of snow which could be VERY heavy at times.

WINDS

Winds will turn gusty during and after the storm with gusts 25-25+ mph which may lead to downed trees, power outages and reduced visibility. This may also lead to snow drifts and blowing snow.

After the storm, temperatures remain cold on Monday with highs only in the low 30s with sunshine and breezy conditions. An overnight freeze can be expected each night through the week, turning any melted snow on the roads and sidewalks back into ice.

We’ll stay dry through around Thursday as we watch for a quick-moving system that may bring some snow showers. At this time, it doesn’t look like a major storm.

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