Wednesday storm likely to leave high elevation areas with more snow, very little for lowlands

Weather

(WOWK) – After some parts of West Virginia saw more than four inches of snow on Monday morning, all eyes now turn to a well publicized storm coming to the region on Wednesday. But for snow lovers, the key to seeing accumulation appears to be “heading for the hills.”

The greatest impacts from the coming winter storm appear to be north and east of the WOWK viewing area.

NOAA WPC’s Winter Storm Severity Index forecast for Wednesday, December 16

As of Monday night the system was still taking shape with low pressure coming out of the Rockies, set to meet with moisture and warmer air from the Gulf of Mexico, then that combination is expected to swing to the east coast on Wednesday and Thursday.

Tuesday’s upper air pattern shows the upper level low starting to move southeast

By Wednesday there should be two areas of low pressure in the southeastern part of the U.S. Cold air trapped in the northern and eastern parts of the WOWK region will meet the moisture coming from the south. Another key player will be the high to the northeast of Toronto. That will be jamming cold air down into the moisture even as a warm conveyor belt of air moves up from the southwest into SE KY and the Charleston-Huntington area. The net effect should be rain for the lowlands with some snow in parts of Ohio, and areas around Parkersburg and especially areas from Summersville to the east and north.

Predictor model output for Wednesday late morning

Late Wednesday the two surface lows swing up along the SE coast of the US and begin to merge into one more powerful low. The rain vs. snow areas stay about the same for the WOWK area but the snow really picks up along the Allegheny Mountains up through the Laurel Mountains of the Appalachians and the snow continues to hammer Pennsylvania and Maryland and points northeast. That cold high continues to provide the refrigerator effect needed to produce snow in those areas.

Predictor model output for Wednesday evening

By early Thursday the lows have merged, causing wind issues for areas east of the WOWK viewing area. There will likely be a decent northwest wind during the day, ushering in a few squalls or upslope snow showers that could leave some light accumulations on the western facing slopes of West Virginia down through southeast Kentucky.

Predictor model output for Thursday morning

There are some winter storm watches out for the region from US 119 and I-79 to the east. The main concern in the lowlands would be some freezing rain potential early Wednesday. In the high mountains the concern would be heavy amounts of wet snow.

Ice Tracker output for potential of freezing rain Wednesday morning.

Winter storm watches can be issued for snow or ice amounts and remember a “watch” means that conditions are right for something to happen. A “warning” is when something will happen. Stay tuned for more changes to this outlook in the near future.

Winter storm watch area for Wednesday until very early Thursday morning.

The amounts of snow continue to change on the weather model outputs and in the late Monday runs of data, the amounts became even lower than previous runs for the lowlands. The familiar “warm wedge” of air from the southwest should once again infiltrate the storm, causing far less, if any, accumulating snow in areas west of I-79 to the Ohio River.

One of many models indicating more snow on Wednesday east of I-79 and less west of Charleston

Models will continue to change, and the forecast will also, but overall watch for slick conditions anywhere early Wednesday followed by snowy conditions in those higher terrain areas east of I-79 where travel could be slick to hazardous and the re-freeze could also pose travel issues on Wednesday night as the system moves away to the northeast.

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