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The calm before the storm in Fredericksburg

If you haven’t heard yet there’s a snow storm on the way(!!!). But despite temperatures well below normal, today’s weather is actually rather nice with abundant sunshine and light winds. This, of course, stands in direct contrast to the conditions we’ll see starting tomorrow night and through most of Thursday. Currently Fredericksburg is still under a Winter Storm Watch but that will change to a Winter Storm Warning soon enough. The snow will start in the city during late afternoon Wednesday (earlier to the south).

Given the plethora of snow depth maps that have been tossed around I thought it would be prudent to once again point out the uncertainties associated with forecasts like these. The storm that will bring us the snow is barely in the earliest stages of forming over the southwestern Gulf of Mexico. Its exact path still has some degree of uncertainty and a shift in track of just one county to the east or west could significantly change how much snow Fredericksburg receives.

One reason is that the counterclockwise flow around the low pressure as it approaches from the south will bring winds out of the east. This will push warmer air off the Atlantic westward over Virginia. Even though temperatures at the surface – where we live – will be near freezing the air farther up will be above freezing. This will lead to the situation illustrated by this graphic that I’ve shown before:winterimage

Several forecast models depict this warm air being pushed westward to the I-95 corridor, which will cause a changeover from snow to sleet for the ‘Burg. That will likely keep snow totals from reaching the deeper levels that some of the maps are showing. But whether the final tally winds up being 8-12 inches of pure snow or 4-6 inches of snow and sleet road conditions will be difficult to impossible. Plan on Wednesday night and Thursday being good times to stay close to home if you have the option…and if you have to get out and drive make sure you have an emergency kit in your vehicle.

And for those of you who crave springtime a long-range glimpse at the weather pattern shows temperatures rising above normal by this time next week, and possibly staying that way through the end of the month.

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