Winter Storm Alert for Travelers
The timing could not be any worse as a major winter storm makes the turn up the Appy mountains on Tuesday and pulls away by Wednesday afternoon.
For travelers hitting the road, the dilemma ahead is easily described; namely, do you travel on a very wet and rainy Tuesday when fog clings to the hills, wait until the snowy conditions of Wednesday when during the morning we will be in a wind blow snowstorm or hold off until Thanksgiving morning when the temperature is so cold (teens) that the snow and slush will be frozen solidly?
The most likely scenario for road conditions is as follows for major Interstates.
I-64, Ky RT 23 (Charleston-Kenova-Grayson & Ashland, Pikeville, Bristol)
Locally, our part of the Ohio, Big Sandy and Kanawha Valleys will see an overnight dusting of snow in places melt away in time for two wet Tuesday rush hours. Afternoon rains will pour down and back up storm sewers.
After a lull on Tuesday evening in time for a “less wet” Ashland parade, colder air will knife in at night then snow will pepper down from midnight until noon Wednesday. Snow may fall at the rate of a half to one inch per hour.
I-77, I-79 (Marietta-Charleston-Beckley-Wytheville & Charleston-Jane Lew-Morgantown-Pittsburgh)
Travelers will not encounter any significant accumulating snow on Tuesday from Wytheville to Pittsburgh, though a grassy coating of snow can be encountered from Morgantown north to the Steel City and from Beckley south to Wytheville as both interstates stay wet. Watch for fog to be thickest in the higher terrain into Virginia and North Carolina.
Here an all out snowstorm with wind and blowing snow will make travel very hazardous commencing after midnight Tuesday. More than 6 inches will collect including on roads by Wednesday evening. Visibility will be down to a half a mile at times. Plowing will be common.
North of Akron to Cleveland, lake effect snows will follow the general system snow of 2"-4".
I-64 Greenbrier Valley
As you make the turn from Beckley toward the Greenbrier, some brief ice/snow issues on Tuesday morning will be mainly above ground level (icy windshields possible), but let me stress a rainy and foggy day is ahead. The changeover in Lewisburg, Bluefield and Beckley will occur overnight Tuesday into Wednesday when a half a foot or more of wind blown snow will reduce visibility and make for a very slow Wednesday of travel.
I-64 West Lexington-Louisville-St. Louis
In the colder, drier air to the west an inch of snow is possible on Tuesday in the Bluegrass around Lexington though a trip heading toward Louisville and into Indiana-Missouri is among the better to be had. This storm is a miss for this part of the Commonwealth!
I-95 Raleigh to Boston
This 10 state drive will be wet and windy Tuesday into Wednesday with snow a non-concern. Fog will accompany the rains making airport delays common. Strong winds will follow the rain storm by Wednesday night-Thursday. Those winds will play havoc with the tethered balloons at the Macy’s parade.
RT. 23, AA Highway, Rt. 35 Portsmouth to Columbus and Vanceburg to Alexandria Ky and Jefferson Outlets to Dayton
The farther west the less impact this storm will have but I suspect the Scioto Trail does have enough snow for salting especially on Tuesday night as snows accumulate 1-3” then end around sunrise on Wednesday.
West of Vanceburg and west of Chillicothe snow totals will average an inch or 2 tops. Travel will be slick for awhile on Tuesday, but dry by Wednesday.
I-68 Garrett, Md and Preston WV
After a Tuesday of freezing rain and sleet that will ice up some surfaces, an all out snowstorm with blizzard conditions is likely Tuesday night through Wednesday night. Travel is not recommended here as winds blow and drift 10” of snow around.
I-81, Skyline Drive Western Va and Pa
Tuesday's heavy rain and fog will end as wet snow on Wednesday with a small accumulation of snow in the morning in Virginia.
From Hagerstown to Harrisburg, Tuesday flooding will give way to a moderate snowfall of 1”-3” on Wednesday afternoon. Salting will be needed especially north of Mason-Dixon.
To summarize, I am recommending any driving be completed by Tuesday nightfall or midnight at the latest into and out of our region.