Weekend Snow Looks to be Strongest of the Decade

Chances of a White Christmas are looking up as a weekend snowstorm will be followed by more snow next week. Tony has the flakey story.

Friday 12AM Update

In what is best described as a lame decade for snow, my research shows that the heaviest snow of the decade occured on Saturday morning January 19,2002 when a fast and furious 6" to 9" fell.

Well with only 15 days left in the decade, if all goes well, we will be in that same 6 to 9 inch neighborhood this Saturday.

I stress travel Saturday will be difficult so best to get where you are going Friday and as always check with our latest as snow forecasts are notorious for sudden changes.

Thursday Dinner Update

A plowable snowfall is heading our way this weekend so let me state this up front. If you can complete your travels by sundown Friday do so. That is the advice I have been giving to callers to WSAZ this chilly Thursday afternoon.

On my 6PM broadcast, I highlighted an area in red where the snow would be heaviest and most impacting. Cumberland, Md., Blacksburg and Wytheville Va, Lewisburg and Beckley WV, Pikeville Ky and Asheville NC were all in that red zone. That meant as much as a foot of snow was likely. Travel here at the height of the storm (Friday night and Saturday is not recommended.

This means significant travel delays along I-68 thru N Md, I-81 in Western Virginia, I-77 south out of Charleston all the way to Charlotte and Rt 23 the Country Music Highway from Pikeville south into Tennessee.

For most of the WSAZ.com area, the early call focused on a general 6 inches of wet snow. Points east toward Charleston into the Coalfields had a better chance of more than 6 while points north and west of Ohio River towns like Ashland, Portsmouth and Gallipolis will liekly be closer to 3 or 4 inches.

But let me stress, we are 24 hours(as of 6pm) from the first sticking snowflakes, so naturally the forecast is subject to revision.l

Early Thursday Update

A developing wet snowfall seems likely Friday night into Saturday.

Any travel on I-77 out of Charleston southward should be complete by sundown Friday. Same goes for I-75 south out of Lexington and I-81, Skyline Drive thru Virginia. This area seems more susceptible to substantial snow from this pattern.

One caveat, the storm has not taken shape yet. But given how this is a big travel weekend, better to get the word out early and update as needed.

We should see more snow than we had 2 weeks ago.

Dreaming of a White Christmas

The first decade of the 21st century has set an annoying trend for White Christmas fans. You see the first nine years of the new millennium have gone by with only one or two December 25ths featuring snow on the ground.

In Charleston and the Kanawha Valley, your last White Christmas dates back to 2002 when a morning coating melted by mid day only to be refreshed by an new evening blanket of snow. Since then nada!

Meanwhile the Huntington-River Cities, Southern Ohio, Northern Kentucky region enjoyed a quick 1 to 2 inch snowfall in 2003 on Christmas morning. That made 2 straight years with snow on the ground on Christmas day. Here’s how I highlighted that last White Christmas in my blog that year.

“Christmas morn dawned partly sunny as the kids raced downstairs to open the cargo Santa had hauled from the North Pole. By 8 AM as mom and dad were saluting the morning with a glass of egg nog and the French toast was dripping off the skillet, snow squalls arrived on a passing arctic front. By 10AM , 1”-2” of snow had fallen from Huntington south into Lincoln County and for much of Southern West Virginia. Charleston too had the ground whitened. Who says they don’t believe in miracles?

But since then nada!

Still from a statistician’s viewpoint, the current snow drought for Christmas days is not that unusual as long as it is offset by a string of future White Christmas Days. Remember one year or even a decade makes little difference for a 100 year trend.

But unless you have been listening to your favorite radio station and Bing Crosby’s White Christmas ballad, your dream has not been answered for 6 or 7 years.

That trend may be corrected this year as an intense winter pattern of cold and snow is setting up for much of eastern North America this year. Given the expectations that we will have frequent snow showers beginning this weekend thru early next week, it is a slam dunk we will have the ground whitened. But a coating of snow on Saturday or Sunday hardly assures snow on the ground for Christmas day.

Of course to assure a white covering on Christmas day, the best way is to have it snow on Christmas eve or even the big day itself. Early signs suggest that is possible.

As for some background on Crosby’s White Christmas, the story is intriguing! Written in 1942 by Irving Berlin, the song was immortalized by Da Binger in the movie Holiday Inn back in 1954. With a star studded cast including Rosemary Clooney (my mom’s favorite) and Danny Kaye, the movie version is sure to show up on cable this holiday season. I have been fortunate to have experienced a dozen or so White Christmas’ in my lifetime and must admit I yearn for another badly!

I will keep you posted with our updated chances of a White Christmas as well as some new Christmas tidbits in the days ahead.

Until then, Think Snow!
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