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5 inches or more of snow possible for area starting Saturday night

If you looked into snowy sky last weekend, shook your mittened fist and shouted, “thank you Mother Nature, may we have another?,” you just may be in luck.

The National Weather Service says a Canadian cold front coming to visit from the north likely will run into a wet and warm low-pressure area moving up from the Gulf of Mexico on Saturday, creating a chance for significant accumulation of wet snow between Saturday night and Sunday morning.

The weather service has issued a winter storm watch for Charlottesville and Nelson, Greene, Madison, Orange and Albemarle counties, warning of the possibility for five or more inches of snow and slick, slippery roads between 9 p.m. Saturday and noon Sunday.

Included in the watch are the Blue Ridge Mountains and areas of western Virginia into West Virginia.

Weather service meteorologists said a “shortwave trough,” which often brings precipitation with it, had moved into the central part of the country and likely would create a second low-pressure area off the coast.

With the Canadian visitor, a front in Tennessee and a new low coming up the coast, the stage is set for a possible snowy event.

“What this means in terms of sensible weather locally is that the chances for precipitation have increased markedly for Saturday night into Sunday,” meteorologists said in a discussion section on the weather service website. “The air mass should be cold enough for the bulk of the precipitation to fall as snow, though a start as light rain or a mix is possible.”

The weather pattern is similar to the one that dropped as much as six inches of snow on Central Virginia on Jan. 31 and then pummeled Pennsylvania and New England. This weekend’s storm is expected to be brief and should bring less snowfall, meteorologists predicted.

Although the storm’s severity and the snowfall amount expected are still unpredictable, the weather service is anticipating rain Saturday evening turning into snow Saturday night. That could be anywhere from one to five inches and maybe more.

“Any further shifts may result in an uptick or downtick in forecasted snowfall amounts,” officials said.

Virginia Department of Transportation officials said they are not taking any chances.

“Because the storm is anticipated to start as rain, no pretreatment of primary roads is currently taking place,” said Paula Jones, VDOT spokeswoman. “Crews are inspecting their trucks and other equipment, re-installing spreaders and plows and loading truck beds with salt, sand or other materials in anticipation.”

Crews will work around the clock to clear roads, beginning with primary highways, then shifting to secondary roads and neighborhoods once the main roads are passable, Jones said.

Source: www.dailyprogress.com

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