NWS: Historic Triangle could get half a foot of snow this weekend

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Merrimac Trail is blanketed in snow Jan. 22, 2016. (Elizabeth Hornsby/WYDaily)
Merrimac Trail blanketed after a snowstorm in January 2016. (WYDaily file photo)

The Historic Triangle could get up to six inches of snowfall this weekend, starting Saturday at daybreak, according to National Weather Service meteorologist Jeff Orrock.

Before any snow accumulation, Orrock said the greater Williamsburg area could experience a mix of snow and rain as early as Friday. A storm that was predicted for Thursday will likely only bring rain to the region, he added.

But once the temperature drops overnight Friday and a storm system along the North Carolina coast adds moisture into the cold air, we could be looking at a major snowstorm.

“The storm track dictates how much snow will fall and where,” Orrock said. “There’s a big range there, and it depends where that range sets up on the Peninsula.”

“Right now we’re seeing that Hampton Roads will get a big winter storm,” he added. “But how far inland it goes will be the question.”

snowamt90prcntlAccording to Orrock, weather predictions Wednesday afternoon gave about a 20 percent chance of Williamsburg getting five to six inches of snowfall Saturday. The area had a 57 percent chance of getting at least an inch of snow accumulation.

“There will snow in the region,” Orrock said. “If you look at the potential, the potential is six inches, but that’s worst case scenario.”

Even if there is a small amount of accumulation, Orrock says whatever falls is likely to stick around. Behind the coastal storm system is an arctic air mass that will keep temperatures low for several days after the storm. If there is any accumulation of snow, it will remain until Tuesday or maybe even Wednesday.

“The roads will be icy for a couple days,” Orrock said. “They could be worse on Sunday morning than they are on Saturday.”

Be Ready

For ways to beat winter weather, check out these tips from the Virginia Department of Emergency Management.

Here are a few:

  • Don’t use generators inside, due to the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • If the power goes out, use flashlights. Candles are a fire hazard.
  • Bring pets inside and make sure they have enough food and access to unfrozen water.
  • Don’t drive during winter storms.
  • For traffic information and updates on road conditions, go to 511 Virginia or dial 511.
  • The Virginia Department of Transportation also has information about road closures and winter-travel safety.