Say hello to the Arctic express
W-I-N-D C-H-I-L-L. There, I said it … and it’s back in our weather vocabulary in a big way this morning. As I type this a quick check of conditions at the UMW weather station shows a wind chill value at a numbing 2 degrees (F). Yes you read that right. What it means is that any excursion outside today should involve heavy coats, scarves, hats, gloves, and anything else you deem necessary to keep exposed skin from freezing.
Another effect of this Arctic air invasion is the issuance of a Red Flag Warning through 6 pm today. The combination of strong winds forecast to gust up to 30 mph and very low dew points yields bone dry conditions in which fires can start and spread extremely rapidly. (Another factor is the harsh effect on skin so moisturizers would be a good idea today as well.)
The northwesterly winds are resulting in some clouds and snow flurries over the mountains. Some of these flurries spilled over the mountains into the Virginia Piedmont last night creating excitement in counties to our west. Will that excitement continue this week with the approach of a storm system from the south? Well…..yes and no.
The widely varying model solutions are beginning to settle down and come into agreement with one another that this next storm will be a wet one for Fredericksburg. Here is the five day total potential “wetness” graphic from the Weather Prediction Center:
Notice the angry red shading that flows northwestward almost into the vicinity of the ‘Burg. That represents nearly 3 inches of rainfall that will fall mainly Tuesday and Wednesday around here. Thus the weather conditions during one of the busiest travel times of the year will not be pleasant with road traffic and airports both likely to experience delays (so plan accordingly).
The big question is whether or not it will be cold enough for frozen stuff. Right now – emphasis on NOW – it appears that the precipitation will begin early Tuesday morning as a mixture of rain and snow around Fredericksburg with a potential for freezing rain and sleet further west over the mountains. This will be followed by heavier rain Tuesday afternoon and evening and may turn back into snow before it all ends sometime on Wednesday.
Could this storm turn into a huge snowmaker for Virginia? Not likely given that there will be no strong high pressure around to lock in the cold air over us. Instead relatively warm air will be drawn into our region from the Atlantic as the storm approaches from the south to keep it mostly a rain event. But if you’re planning a Thanksgiving jaunt across the mountains or to the Northeast you may want to pay close attention to the forecast up that way.
Stay tuned on this one.