It may sound like a plot twist fresh out of the latest “Star Wars” movie, but it’s a real thing and we may have to drive through it Tuesday afternoon.
A shortwave pulse in the atmosphere will create strong lift in the zone of differential cyclonic vorticity advection, and National Weather Service meteorologists predict that likely will bring between 1 to 2 inches of snow to the Charlottesville area, with a good chance that it could last through the rush hour.
The weather service has issued a winter weather advisory for Albemarle, Nelson and Greene counties and Charlottesville that calls for as much as 3 inches in western parts of the advisory area by 7 p.m. Tuesday. Between 2 and 4 inches are expected to fall in higher elevations and in the Shenandoah Valley.
The amount of snowfall predicted decreases in Fluvanna and Louisa counties to about an inch with little accumulation.
“The larger amount of snow will be in the Shenandoah Valley and we’re still assessing models to see if we need to increase that amount,” said Michael Souza, of the weather service. “[Lower elevations] east of the Blue Ridge are a dicey spot, but there’s confidence that we’ll see about an inch and up to 2. That decreases as you get closer to Interstate 95.”
According to the advisory, area motorists can expect snow to start falling after 10 a.m. Tuesday, likely mixed with rain. That should turn to mostly snow after 2 p.m. and could continue until about 7 p.m.
“It’s going to be a quick-moving system that lasts a couple of hours,” Souza said. “It will really come in after 1 p.m. and we’ll see more snow develop and then it will be out of here by 7 or 8 p.m.”
The snowfall will be replaced by a high-pressure system bringing sunny skies and highs in the 40s for Wednesday and Thursday with cloud cover and highs in the 50s for Friday before rain moves in again for the weekend.
“It should be out of here late Tuesday,” Souza said. “We won’t have to worry about any more snow in the forecast for a little while.”