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Biggest snow storm in years on the way

Harrisonburg  WHSV logo Harrisonburg WHSV 12/16/2020 Aubrey Urbanowicz
a blue street sign sitting on the side of a building: Snow for Wednesday © Provided by Harrisonburg WHSV Snow for Wednesday

HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - After the pitiful winter of 2019-2020 we have one of the biggest snow storms in years on the way. In fact for some of us this will be the biggest snow since the great December “bust” of 2018. I don’t like to recall that storm. It was an impossible storm to forecast when you have a 7″+ snow difference in less than 10 miles, and a 16″ difference in about 30 miles.

The most recent widespread big storm was the historic January 2016 blizzard. Now this storm won’t be that big, but it beats out the small measly 3-5″ events (or less) we’ve mainly had since the big blizzard.

graphical user interface: Most recent big snow storms © Provided by Harrisonburg WHSV Most recent big snow storms

TIMING: Right now we’re looking at start time to be around mid-morning Wednesday. So when you first wake up early, it probably won’t be snowing just yet. If anything maybe some flurries early. One thing to remember is that with this system, timing changes won’t affect expected amounts. It’s going to be cold enough no matter what time of the day.

Ending: We’re looking at a good 12 hour-ish event. Tapering off south to north between about 10 p.m. and midnight.

EXPECTED SNOW:

Here’s a look at expected snowfall amounts. Remember snow, just like rain never falls even. So there always can be some locally higher amounts, and possibly a few lower ones.

Highest totals across the Allegheny mountains where some spots may even pick up close to 18″ of snow. Lowest amounts likely will be in part of Augusta county, closer to the Blue Ridge and Rockbridge counties. These areas have the highest likelihood of either super wet snow (which can lower totals) or have some sleet mixing in, also lowering totals.

SNOW POTENTIAL: Several inches of snow expected. There will be closures, delays and possible power outages. Stay off the roads unless you absolutely have to go out. Right now we are looking at about 8-12″ for the Potomac Highlands and Northern Valley. Up to 18″ possible in some spots.

HIGHEST TOTALS: Up to 18″ possible for some spots in Grant and Hardy county, western Shenandoah to Frederick county and north.

The rest of our area is expected to see about 4-8″. Up to 10″ locally in some areas especially north of Rt. 33.

THE SLEET SCENARIO: There may be just enough of some warm air above the surface in some of our southern areas to change the snow to sleet or even wetter snow. LOWER SNOW TOTALS: This could lead to less than 4″ of snow and more of an icing for areas along Rt. 340 from the town of Shenandoah southward. This would also include areas such as Staunton, Waynesboro and just as far west as Great North Mountain in Augusta county. As well as eastern/southeastern parts of Rockingham county including Cross Keys and Elkton.

So if more sleet mixes in, then snow totals in the light blue area will be held down. A small shift in the track will affect this, we could be talking less than 20 miles and it can make a big difference. Below is the expected snow on the left and if we see more sleet mixing in, what can happen on the right.

graphical user interface: Potential for what can happen Wednesday © Provided by Harrisonburg WHSV Potential for what can happen Wednesday

A few things to remember, no matter how much snow falls, whether it’s 6″, 8″, or 10″+ the impact is all the same. Some will be shoveling less, some will be shoveling more. What gets more dangerous is adding the icing.

IMPACT:

Slick and icy roads, road closures, delays and closings, possible power outages. Those who live on mountain roads or out in county areas where it takes a while for plows to get to, it’s going to be a bit before you’re able to get out. Melting Thursday and Friday will be slow and everything will re-freeze at night.

It will be a pretty snow, we will get some amazing photos and it will be a beautiful snow for the day.

HOW TO MEASURE SNOW:

The right way: Biggest thing is to not measure on grass. You can tweet or facebook those right to Chief Meteorologist Aubrey Urbanowicz. Send an email to aurbanowicz@whsv.com. Or you can send them directly to the National Weather Service.

HOW TO SEND IN PHOTOS:

We love sharing your photos on air. So a few things to keep in mind:

1. Turn your phone to the side. Vertical pictures are not good for tv. Think landscape mode

2. Don’t zoom in too much. This distorts the resolution

3. Don’t forget your name and location

Send in your weather pictures here:

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