HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- This is a traveler’s alert for Friday snow and ice.
Here it is, the last weekend in January and for some, the first healthy snow of the season is due in town on Friday.
Unlike many winter cases, the temperature will not be borderline with this event. That makes this an all snow event for most areas, and given the frozen ground, we should expect slick travel conditions within an hour of the first flake.
Snow will break out “suddenly” in western Ohio and western Kentucky near dawn. Riding the wings of a 100-mile-per-hour jet stream, that snow will streak into our region likely just after the morning rush hour.
Flurries should begin spitting down by 8 a.m. points west then make it to Charleston and the I-77 corridor in a another hour or two. The mountains of West Virginia (where 10 inches to a foot of snow can fall through Saturday night) will have the snow begin by noon.
By mid morning, steady snow will be falling, and that snow looks to continue into the mid afternoon hours. A general 2 or 3 inches of snow will lay down by 4 p.m. when snow will become more showery in nature.
After 4 straight nights with lows in the teens and low 20s, whatever falls will stick and quickly make for slippery travel conditions.
While salt trucks will be out in force, some highway departments strap the plows on when snow depths get to 2 inches. So I would expect plows would be scraping snow off roads during the heart of the event, especially in West Virginia.
Evening rush hour will come at the peak temperature of the day, near 28, and will benefit not only from salted roads, but also the lighter and more showery nature of the snow still left falling. In addition, the sun’s energy will invisibly penetrate the clouds during the day. That should mean the worst travel conditions will occur in the time zone of 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. followed by a slow improvement.
But beware the setting sun and new show showers to recoat roads on Friday evening. Aided by falling temperatures, roads will have to be re-treated, especially east toward Charleston and the high country.
If you are heading west and south, say on I-64 and I-75, the closer you get to Jellico Mt, Tennessee on I-75 and to Paducah on I-65, the better risk of a cocktail of freezing rain and sleet. That concoction may make for icier conditions. Here at home, a dry powdery snow will pack into an icy mush where salt trucks do not make it through.
For Buckeye travelers it will be a snowy trip to the Queen City of Cincy, the outlets at Jefferson and the state capital in Columbus with a general 2 or 3 inches to fall.
In Kentucky, from Lexington west to Louisville on I-64, snow totals will par down to one to two inches.
Back into Wild and Wonderful WV, the northern half of the state will benefit from the same moist flow that generates a bit more snow in Charleston. So it’s a two to four inch lay of snow from Sutton to Morgantown and from Ripley to Parkersburg-Marietta to Zanesville.
Travelers riding I-68 through Garrett and Preston Counties will encounter a snowier climb beginning at dawn Friday with as much as 8 inches to fall by noon Saturday.
As you drive south on I-77, the terrain of southern WV gets steeper and is always fair game for stouter snow accumulations. From Oak Hill south to the Va line, as much as 4 inches will fall Friday with another inch or 2 Friday night through noon Saturday.
That’s my best thinking on Thursday night. Drive safely, smartly and by all means update with Brandon and Josh Friday morning.