Most of the weather models this afternoon or this evening have moved towards the European model solution which has been my Preferred Choice for this event and for East Coast winter storms in general within 48 hours. Of course this is a long-duration event and will come in several different stages. Because this is a fairly complicated situation I have also sent over three different situation maps of how I see this event evolving over the next two and a half days.
The first portion of this storm for the Middle Atlantic region will occur Wednesday afternoon and evening with the snow spreading across West Virginia ,the northern half of Virginia ,into Washington DC, close to Baltimore, southern Maryland in portions of the central Delmarva. Just to the south here will be an interval or band of sleet and freezing rain and south of that small area of light rain. The snow accumulations from this initial burst of snow Snow amounts will generally range from 2 to 5 inches with the higher amounts in the eastern portion of West Virginia and into the Staunton / Waynesboro area.
By Wednesday morning the arctic front will begin to sang southward. There are of course differences in the timing of the cold front with the European British model and NAM models more aggressive with the timing and speed of the cold front then the GFS model. Unfortunately a lot of TV stations continue to rely on the GFS model even though it is clearly outnumbered here. That being said the data clearly shows the low-level cold air pushing down to Richmond and Lynchburg by Thursday afternoon. This means that the rain will begin to change to sleet and freezing rain and eventually snow by Thursday evening 6 or 7 p.m.
By 7 p.m. the low-level cold air from two or three thousand feet down to the ground will be cold enough to drop temperatures below 32 degrees so rain will change the freezing rain and or sleet in much of southwest Virginia form approximately Lynchburg and Lexington over to Interstate 77 as well as most of southeastern portions of West Virginia. The southern Virginia Piedmont could be experiencing a significant ice storm on Thursday late afternoon and evening and this may extend into the Petersburg Stony Creek area as well and into the far northern counties of NC along the VA border. .
The main snow event will occur Thursday evening into Friday morning. The situation map dated 2 am Friday January 12 shows where the heaviest snow will be occurring during the pre-dawn hours on Friday. Based upon our latest reading of the data it looks like the heaviest snow will be falling in the far southern Maryland counties of
St Mary’s and Calvert, the Northern Neck interior portions of the Middle Peninsula , most of central Virginia ,including Fredericksburg Ashland Richmond, then over into most of the Virginia Piedmont including location such as Charlottesville, Culpepper, Warrenton, Orange and then down into Lynchburg Farmville and across into portions of the central Shenandoah Valley.
If the GFS solution turns out to be correct the Snow Line would stay north of Richmond and close to Fredericksburg and Charlottesville. This means that the Richmond Metro area as well as Lynchburg and the Central Virginia Piedmont would see much more ice and less snow than this forecast first guest map is currently depicting
The entire event will end from west to east Friday morning probably as a period. of sleet and or freezing rain. But be advised that Sleet and Freezing rain are likely to return to much of northwest North Carolina, and a good portion of Virginia, Maryland, and the Delmarva Saturday midday into the evening hours. At this point in time this does not look like a heavy precipitation event but with temperatures below 32 degrees and snow and ice already on the ground this could resent a serious complication.