Winter Makes A Dramatic Return
First "Snow" For Many In the Lowlands...Near Blizzard Conditions At Times In The Mountains
Greatest Impact from around Midnight tonight to Friday Afternoon
A cold front this morning brought some overnight rain and is now moving east. While it will be chillier today the temperature will actually be about the same as it was on Wednesday. Clouds are breaking for some sun while some leftover showers in the mountains change to a few flakes. Overall, though, most of today through sundown appears quiet for us locally, except for the wind which will be noticeably gusty with speeds around 30 to 35 mph at times in the valleys and 40 to 50 mph in the mountains. That wind will make temps in the mid 40s feel more like low to mid 30s this afternoon...so don't be fooled if your car thermometer appears to read the same as it did yesterday. We didn't have any wind to contend with Wednesday.
The true shot of Winter arrives with another front this evening. Showers will begin to break out after sundown in SE Ohio and track quickly down to the south and east across the Ohio River. Initially this may briefly begin as rain but then change over to snow. However, with temperatures above freezing in the lowlands some of that will melt initially. As we get closer to midnight the temperature will get closer to freezing...and wet spots on roads could begin to turn icy, especially on bridges and overpasses. With snow squalls setting up across our area...brief 30-45 minute bursts of snow accompanied by wind...we could have small snow accumulations fall on a small layer of ice. As a result, travel will get dicey as we get into the overnight hours here in the lowlands.
In the mountains it will be a far more dramatic scene as snow squalls pepper down frequently into Friday morning, with near blizzard conditions at times with close to zero visibility. Fluffy snow will pile up quickly, especially near and east of US 19. In fact, areas east of US 19 will end up with over a half foot of snow when this event wraps up Friday night. US 19 itself appears in line for a 2 to 4 inch accumulation. Closer to Charleston a half inch to inch should cover most of us, although any localized spot that gets a more persistent band setting up could end up with 1.5" or 2". Not much snow to be sure...but it would be the first true accumulation of the season and can lead to dicey roads by Friday morning. These first snow events can always bring more headaches than ones later in the Winter when we've gotten acclimated to winter weather driving again.
The temperature and wind are the other part of the equation...with wind chills falling into the teens by dawn Friday here and into the single digits in the mountains. Not only that, but those 40+ mph gusts in the mountains will blow snow around and back onto plowed roads, making it difficult to keep travel conditions clear. Routes 15, 20, 39 and 219 will be especially bad and I would strongly discourage travel Friday on those roads.
The snow squall machine will taper down in the lowlands Friday afternoon and into the mountains Friday night. By Saturday we'll be dry with some sun and believe it or not...after starting the day in the teens and 20s temperatures will rebound up to 50 degrees (in the valleys) and 40 to 45 in the mountains, which will melt down at least some of that snow. Another shot of moisture will arrive by Saturday night for New Year's Eve revelers. Dress warm....I expect chilly light rain for Charleston and Huntington with temperatures falling into the 30s. Strong winds will be felt again which will put the wind chill in the 20s. It will be a pretty raw, damp chill for Saturday night...and there may be a brief period of a wintry mix in the mountains and up near Route 50 before changing to rain late up there.