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Three waves of cold ahead, and possible snow next week

A transition to a more consistently cold weather pattern in Virginia is about to take place.

Before these types of transitions happen, there is usually some type of precipitation and wind. That ought to be the case Friday and Saturday across the state.

Clouds thicken on Friday as breezes turn more from the south, sending temperatures well into the 50s before rain crosses the state during the afternoon and evening.

The rain will not be as consistent, nor the winds as strong, as the storm earlier in the week. Most rivers across the state are either cresting or falling, and anticipated rain totals with the Friday storm are below one inch, so additional flooding is not expected. Isolated flash flooding is possible near streams and creeks, but overall, the rain will not reinvigorate the flood waters along the major rivers of Virginia.

The cold weather comes in three distinct waves, with the first coming on Saturday. This one will largely knock temperatures back toward normal, or perhaps a few degrees below normal, but nothing that we have not experienced already this winter.

Sunday brings a second, subtle surge of cold air, further forcing the temperatures back several degrees during the day and at night. Weekend highs will be in the 40s with lows in the 20s, and both days will bring chilly breezes from the northwest, signaling the advancing colder air.

That colder air will be in place as the next storm takes shape and advances into Virginia between Monday night and Tuesday. It remains the state’s best chance of accumulating snow so far this season — from Richmond to Fredericksburg and from Roanoke to Charlottesville.

But the precise details are simply too far away, giving us the weekend to see how the storm takes shape. It will come ashore along the West Coast on Saturday, so there will be a good 24-36 hours to formulate the impacts the storm has on Virginia.

Having said that, it does not look like a colossus. But it will probably be enough to get the VDOT trucks moving on Monday, especially in the areas west of Interstate 95.

Whatever that storm brings, it will exit Tuesday night next week, allowing the third surge of cold air into the state — the coldest one so far this season. And this time, the cold will anchor into the state for several days, giving us our first multi-day period with temperatures consistently below normal.

Record cold is not coming, as low temperatures would need to be flirting a few degrees either side of zero, and we will remain at least 10 degrees above those levels. But several afternoons in the 30s or low 40s are coming next week.

As for the snow, the best guess this far in advance is for an inch or two in that early week storm, perhaps a bit more toward Virginia’s Blue Ridge.

But much more data is needed before scouring the hardware stores for shovels and sleds.


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