Some sun for Sunday and Monday, then a bump in the road to spring
Okay, let’s get today and Monday out of the way: partly to mostly sunny with highs in the mid-40s. Those temperatures are still below the normal early March highs in the lower 50s so the cold pattern is still in place.
Now, if you haven’t heard the buzz coming from various and sundry weather geeks – including official forecasters – regarding this week’s storm you probably haven’t turned on the TV, radio, or browsed the Web recently. Let me first point out that there is a LOT of hype already flying around about the potential for a record March snowfall here in Virginia, and the models do seem to be pointing in that direction. The culprit is a storm that entered North America near Vancouver BC a day or so ago and is crossing our nation diagonally toward us. Here is the current (and I emphasize that word since the location is likely to change) HPC forecast position of this storm Wednesday morning:
This placement and track of the surface low is good for snow to the north and west of the center, and this system will have access to a whole bunch of moisture – my unofficial phrasing – from the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic. This moisture is represented in this map of total accumulating liquid moisture over the next five days, meaning that if it all fell as liquid the ‘Burg would see close to three inches of rain from this storm:
Now, as usual, the difficulty in predicting snow totals for Fredericksburg and vicinity lies in the temperature forecast…and guess what? The ‘Burg is right on the rain/snow line again. (You’re surprised by this, right?) Given the strong March sun and the influx of air via easterly winds from the relatively warm Atlantic the precipitation that falls over the ‘Burg and points east of I-95 will waver between rain and snow for most of this event. However, western parts of Stafford and Spotsylvania counties and areas closer to the mountains will likely see a rapid rampup of snow totals.
When will it start in Fredericksburg? Rain will begin Tuesday afternoon and then change to a mix of rain and snow sometime Tuesday night. How much snow will accumulate? That’s the main question on everyone’s mind whether one is a snow lover or hater. The best I’m willing to do this morning is to state that the ‘Burg will see some snow accumulation, perhaps a shovelable amount, while areas closer to the mountains will likely see plowable amounts. How about what to expect after the precipitation ends? Expect a cold northwesterly gale on the backside of the storm.
Suffice it to say that for this storm to produce a historic March snow in the Old Dominion all the atmospheric factors (temperature, storm track, snow rates, etc) have to line up perfectly. The odds of that happening are not 100% but the possibility can’t be ignored either. Let me just state that if this were January or early February I would be readying my snow shovels and my deep snow gear, but at this point in March I can’t help but feel doubtful about all these factors aligning perfectly. Tomorrow morning the scenario should be a bit clearer but at this moment I think that the ‘Burg will once again stand on the boundary between a little and a lot of snow.