Watching for Saturday Snow Squalls

Winter is back this weekend with cold blusters and snow flurries. Tony says watch out when and where flurries have their Wheaties!


Snow Squally Saturday Ahead
It has been a busy week for fellow snow lovers. Plenty to track, witness Wednesday and Friday’s heavy snow showers, but not a lot to sink our teeth into.
Now as we arrive at the last long holiday weekend of the winter, a gaggle of new snow showers are in the forecast mix to honor Washington, Jefferson and Roosevelt. Call it a President’s weekend snow mélange!
The set-up this weekend is prime for flurries and snow showers as cold arctic air returns on a northwest wind. Since that wind will not be very strong, the upglide of the breeze will be less than usual in other frigid air mass cases.
So to make up for that “weaker” northwest flow Old Man Winter will have to get creative in making new snow showers. In this case, his craftiness will rely on the strengthening February sun to come out.
Coincident to Ol Sol shining on Saturday morning, the coldest air of the winter will be pooling overhead at the 20,000 foot level. So while the ground temperature hits 33 degrees on Saturday, the air temperature 4 miles overhead will plummet to -40 degrees. That will make a whopping 73 degree difference in temperature over a very short vertical distance.
Think of driving from say Town Center Mall in Charleston to Roadside Park in St. Albans or from Boyd County High to Paul Blazer and experiencing a 70 degree drop in temperature!
Now instead do that drive straight up into the heavens and you have the makings of a very turbulent atmosphere.
When this occurs, the morning sun will turn the atmosphere into a huge convective oven. But rather than producing summer thunderstorms, Mother Nature and Old Man Winter will conspire to manufacture snow squalls. In benign cases, a dusting of snow would occur in your neighborhood.  In the most bizarre of cases, a rumble of thunder would be possible!
Nonsensically, I have defined these sudden snow squalls over the years as snow flurries that have had their Wheaties! In effect, the morning sun will add the energy for these towering snow clouds to form in the afternoon.
If you get under one of these squalls, a mini-blizzard will occur for 20 minutes. The resulting whiteout will lay down a quick blanket of snow on grass, roofs and cars and even for a brief period, slush up some roads and sidewalks. But as the squall moves away, the sun will come out and melt away the accumulation of snow.
The returning sun behind the departing squall will then act to fuel some new snow showers, so the pattern will feed on itself.
As for road conditions, I am leery about the period from 5 until 10 on Saturday night. During that time, temperatures will drop swiftly deep into the 20s and a fresh coating of snow will occur in parts of the region. If we get a half inch to inch of fresh snow then, watch for roads to get very slippery.
Likewise, untreated roads can be slick for early Sunday church services.
Meanwhile, if you live in mountainous WV, towns like Richwood, Webster Springs and Lewisburg can measure 3, 4 even 5 inches this weekend. Here there will not be the melting after each shower that the river valley towns of Huntington, Logan, Pikeville and Ironton see.
For a hint of coming attractions this weekend, I am enclosing a neat e-pix from Rhita Taylor of Mt. Alto WV.
How beautiful even a dusting can be!
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