GHENT, WV (WVNS) — *Updated Friday, January 5th, 2024* A winter storm is shaping up to bring a messy weekend disrupting travel plans with rain, ice, and measurable snow for some. Your StormTracker 59 Team broke down the weekend forecast, what to watch for, and the impacts expected.
Current Weather Alerts:
McDowell, Wyoming, Northwest Raleigh, Giles, Tazewell, Bland & Northwest Fayette
Winter Weather Advisory – 1 AM to 1 PM Saturday.
Southeast Nicholas & Pocahontas
Winter Weather Advisory – 7 AM Saturday to 1 AM Sunday.
Southeast Raleigh & Southeast Fayette
Winter Weather Advisory – 1 AM Saturday to 1 AM Sunday.
Mercer, Summers, Monroe, & Greenbrier
Winter Weather Advisory – 4 AM Saturday to 1 AM Sunday.
A complex and large system is expected to move toward the region Friday night and head in early Saturday morning before dawn. This multi-level impact storm will make for a messy weekend. With such a complex forecast, it’s best to think of our weekend in slices, like a pizza. Each slice will feature different aspects, like rain and freezing rain turning to snow and back again depending on location, time of day, and elevation. Below, we’ve broken down your weekend forecast into sections of time with slide shows and what to expect during each time period:
Friday Night (8pm – 2am)
Friday night, clouds will increase as our storm gets closer to our region. By midnight, we’ll see freezing rain push in from the southwest. Icy roads late into the night can be expected through Tazewell, McDowell, and Wyoming counties. Road temperatures at this point are just at the freezing mark. Elevated roads, power lines, and trees will begin to glaze over with ice while surface roads will likely be wet. As rain showers clash with colder air in the mountains, east of I-77, sleet & wet snow will begin to stick late into the night. Overnight temps will continue to cool, meaning even roads through our southwestern counties will begin to ice over.
IMPACTS: Rain to Freezing Rain making untreated roads slick. Use caution
Saturday Morning (2am – 8am)
As the center of the low pressure system moves into the region, the leading edge of precipitation hits colder air in the mountains for periods of wet heavy snow showers. Along I-77, freezing rain and sleet will make travel difficult for untreated roads. For those farther south and west through Tazewell, McDowell, and Tazewell counties, the air warms up enough with southwest winds for a straight rain event. Disruptions to daily life and travel will be evident in the mountains more so than our lower elevation counties.
IMPACTS: Driving conditions deteriorate quickly with heavy snow in the mountains, sheets of ice along I-77, and wet roads with standing water south and west of Beckley.
With the center of the low working through the Ohio River Valley, strong southeast winds ramp up with wind gusts 25-30mph at times, higher on the ridgelines. With ice covered trees and power lines, localized power outages are likely. Large vehicles like SUVs and semis will find driving east to west roads difficult. As freezing rain continues to fall through the I-77 corridor and heavy snow and ice through the mountains along I-64, driving conditions continue to worsen. This will be the height of the storm with conditions changing quickly. Sleet to snow to rain transitions will happen often and quickly.
IMPACTS: Rapidly changing conditions from one county to the next / strong winds leading to power outages / wind-driven heavy snow, sleet, ice, and rain / long duration event
Saturday Night (4pm- 4am)
By Saturday night, the main event of the storm is pushing out towards our north and east. Winds subside, some 10-15mph gusts at times out of the west. This change keeps temps from falling too far. South and west of Beckley, temps remain above freezing for a soggy overnight. Along the I-77 corridor ground temps hover around the freezing mark for patchy icy spots on roads overnight. For higher elevations through Fayette, Nicholas, Greenbrier, and Pocahontas counties, refreezing and snow showers continue. As our storm continues to push off towards New England, winds will shift out of the northwest by pre-dawn Sunday.
IMPACTS: Wet roads southwest / refreezing along and east of I-77 / scattered snow showers and sleet continue
Sunday Morning (4am – 11am)
Winds change out of the west-northwest becoming more northwest by the late morning 25-30 mph at times. These winds will carry wraparound moisture from our low moving through Canada while picking up moisture from the Great Lakes. As this hits our western facing mountains, upslope snow and scattered snow showers for the lowlands are expected. While most of us will have all the snow we’re going to get by Sunday morning, the exception here is the higher elevations through Nicholas, Greenbrier, and Pocahontas County, who will continue to see snow accumulations. By noon, counties across the region will have snow totals similar to our snowfall forecast map. With strong northwest winds, wind chill values will plummet for the mountains into the teens while those off the ridgelines will be in the twenties.
IMPACTS: Snow squalls can quickly cover roadways with snow / Accumulating snows in the mountains continue / Frostbite threat is real and can occur in under 30 minutes of exposure
Sunday Afternoon (11am – 6pm)
Strong winds will continue to blow snow over open roads and wind chills will be stuck in the teens for the mountains. Snow showers fade for most with the exception being the higher elevations towards the northwestern West Virginia mountains like Pocahontas, Webster, and Randolph counties. As we being to dial back snows, roads will be slick in spots with road crews working hard to clear them. While there won’t be much sunshine, solar radiation will help keep roads clear through the daylight hours for places south of I-64 through Greenbrier County.
Sunday Night to Monday Morning (6pm – 6am)
With our storm moving out, high pressure from the south and west will edge its way into our region bringing a more stable air mass with it. Snow showers come to an end for our mountain counties and clouds slow fade away. Roads will refreeze in the overnight hours as temps drop into the 20s for all. Winds begin to subside and change out of the southwest. This change will set us up for a thawing day Monday afternoon with highs expected to reach into the 40s.
By Friday, very little changes are expected to this forecast as we get closer to our weekend. Pinpointing where the colder air sets up will only change the forecast slightly based on where that rain / ice / snow line sets up. However, in past storms that have set up like this, we’ve seen messy conditions that change rapidly. This will be less about how many inches of snow we get but the impacts from one county to the next. Some will see only rain and wonder why we made such a fuss while others will see an ice glaze on roads that make driving during certain times Saturday near impossible. Those in the mountains will look at the 4-6 inches of snow Sunday morning making minor changes to their plans heading into the new week.
While our job is to provide as much information as possible, conditions can sometimes change faster than we can type. The bottom line all of us should take away from this is to expect minor disruptions to your daily life with rapidly changing road conditions. Take it easy on roads and if possible, hold off travel for better conditions. We won’t be snowed in for days at a time but could find roads hard to drive on for 12-16 hours during Saturday, especially in the mountains.
We’ll of course keep our regular daily forecast updated with changing conditions and post current and finer detailed forecast on our social media pages. This includes future advisories, winter storm watches & warning from the National Weather Service as they come in.