Forecast factors for snow Sunday: what we know and what we don’t several days out


(WOWK) — The Internet is already buzzing with comments about a possible storm for the weekend. The StormTracker 13 meteorologists have been keeping an eye on forecast trends and have a few ideas even though the system is several days away.

What is known: there is likely going to be a storm of large scale and large travel impact on Sunday.

What is not known: Exactly how much snow, freezing rain or sleet we will see in the region.

Location of the upper air energy and dynamics that will help develop the Sunday storm

There are many complicating factors to this system this many days ahead and all of those issues are based on how weather models handle things. Once the storm crosses the shore over American soil, there will be far more true weather observations that get fed into weather models so we will see at least some changes to the forecast.

GFS Model forecast of surface features Sunday

The exact track of the storm system will change the kind of precipitation we see. A slight shift south in the low pressure center at the surface could result in colder air here and more fluffy snow. A shift to the north could result in more warm air moving in and resulting in less snow but perhaps more sleet or freezing rain.

Model output for temperatures at 5,000 feet Sunday morning

The temperature of the air above us also matters. Some models have a warm feed of air coming right up U.S. 119 and up I-79 on a southwest flow of air feeding into the system. This could cause some more freezing rain scenarios with far less snow in some areas. That idea is showing up on the GFS model as of Wednesday morning’s weather model information.

GFS model snow ideas from the Wednesday morning run of GFS HIRES model

One thing appears fairly consistent in models and that is colder air trapped along the eastern side of West Virginia so that should produce more snow in this instance there. The main difference in the two respected long range models (GFS and European) is the amount of snow from Charleston to the west. The European underplays the warm wedge but has barely any snow west of Huntington. The GFS has the warm wedge and spreads snow so far north and west that you’d see snow across almost all of Ohio into Michigan from the same precipitation shield. What’s not known at this juncture is: which one will be more correct.

Safe to say Sunday we will see snow and at least some freezing rain. Travel will be slow due to slick conditions on back roads in particular. Salt will be highly effective during the day and into half of the night. Temperatures dropping at night will make for icy conditions Monday morning. Anyone who is going to travel should plan on slow travel. If travel can be avoided, it would be a good idea to think of other backup plans now just in case.

We will keep monitoring the changes that come with each new look at models which is every 6-12 hours and report back to you what we see.

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