Monday will not be a fun day across Virginia. Travel will be difficult, if not dangerous at times. Businesses and schools are advised to plan ahead. This storm will be one where people will wake up at 7-8am and think, “Where is the storm?” Around 9 am, the sleet/snow will begin and everyone will freak out and leave, creating lots of traffic…
Another winter storm is going to impact the state on Monday, blanketing the state in snow and sleet. Winter Storm Watches and Warnings are out for many areas. The storm will begin as sleet in many areas, before transitioning to snow as the colder air works in. Total snowfall accumulations will vary from west to east, with the highest amounts typically being across north and western VA including the campuses of JMU, UVA, UMW and Washington DC. South and east of there, snow will mix more with sleet, and this will cut numbers down.
Why does sleet form instead of snow? It’s due to warmer air aloft. When air above the ground is above 32°F, the snow that falls from the clouds melts on the way down. However, since the warm air is very shallow, and the air near the surface is cold, the water drops refreeze on the way down. They become ice pellets.
(Note: Sleet and hail are NOT the same things. Hail is a convective precip type that occurs when water drops are lifted up into a thunderstorm and then fall over and over in updrafts).
How can you tell sleet from snow or rain? It’s simple! Sleet bounces and pings off your window. Rain and snow does not! If you see sleet, please let us know by reporting it on the mPing app. This app allows meteorologists to get ground proof of what precip type is falling, since radar actually scans a few thousand feet up into the air. The app is available for Android and Apple products.
Let’s break down the storm in terms of impacts:
- Hampton Roads- Sleet begins around 9am and lasts through about noon. Snow begins after.
- Richmond- Sleet begins around 7am, transitions to snow around 10am.
- William and Mary/Williamsburg-Sleet begins around 9am, now around 11.
- JMU/Harrisburg- Storm begins around 2-4am.
- UVA/Charlottesville- Storm begins around 2-4am.
- VT/Blacksburg/Radford- Begins during late morning
- Longwood/Farmville- Sleet begins around 8am, transitions to snow around 11am.
- UMW/Fredericksburg- Sleet begins around 2-4am, transitions to snow around 8am.
- Hampton Roads- 1-4″. Depends on how much sleet mixes in. If less, totals more
towards higher range.
- Richmond- 3-6″ with some sleet accumulations
- William and Mary/Williamsburg- 3 to 6″ with some sleet accumulations
- JMU/Harrisonburg- 6 to 12″
- UVA/Charlottesville- 6 to 12″
- VT/Blacksburg/Radford- 1 to 3″
- Longwood/Farmville- 4 to 6″
- UMW/Fredericksburg- 5 to 10″
The numbers above is my current thinking. The map below, is from the National Weather Service.