Light snow expected to fall in area today; schools closed

For the second consecutive week, the Northern Shenandoah Valley region will be subjected to snowfall, according to the National Weather Service.

However, the difference with this snow is that the expectations for accumulation and precipitation totals are relatively low.

Meteorologist Dan Hofmann said that the snow is the result of an area of low pressure “passing off of the Carolina coast,” causing the precipitation to track more southward.

The region as a whole, Hofmann said, will see “an inch [of snow] or less” on Thursday.

“Most of the accumulating snow should be to the south and east of [the region],” Hofmann said, noting that this area could experience “some light snow.”

The snow is expected to fall in a window between 2 a.m. and 10 a.m. today.

As a result of the snow,  area public schools are closed today in Clarke, Frederick, Shenandoah and Warren counties.   Shenandoah County 12-month employees should report on time, according to the School’s Out Alert.  All Lord Fairfax Community College locations will open at 11 a.m. today.

Today’s forecast is in stark contrast to the sub-freezing temperatures and heavy snowfall that hit the area last week.

At this point, the month of February has been a below-average temperature period for the state.

Current estimates by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has the month at nearly seven degrees below normal.

Hofmann noted that the Washington D.C. area has been experiencing below-normal conditions for the month of February.

Even given the lighter forecast, The Virginia Department of Transportation is getting ready to battle the elements.

VDOT spokesperson Sandy Myers said they will mobilize 500 pieces of equipment to work 12-hour shifts to clear the snow.

In the Northern Shenandoah Valley region, VDOT will have crews and contractors out to clear the road, but it will not coat the roads with salt or brine, Myers said.

“We still have residual salt on the roadways from the last storm,” Myers said. “If you look at them, a lot of the roads are pretty much white, so there’s no reason to put additional brine down.”

Despite reports of salt and brine shortages in Ohio and other localities across the country, VDOT has more than enough supplies to clear roads through the winter, Myers said.

“We started stockpiling over the summer,” Myers said. “We have to be sure we have enough, but you’re never sure what kind of winter you’re going to have … it’s been heavier in the last few weeks and there’s still more winter to come.”

Myers said the equipment is also holding up through the season.

“We have shops throughout our district to fix broken equipment,” Myers said. “We also have mobile units to repair equipment on the side of the road if it’s a minor fix. We haven’t had any equipment shortages or anything of that nature.”

Myers said the overnight timing of this week’s storm adds an additional dimension to the removal operation.

“Because it’s occurring overnight, it will go into the travel time of a lot of workers, so we’re asking for people to be safe and cautious,” Myers said. “We hope people won’t be traveling at that time, but if they do, we ask them to a lot extra time and caution.”

Friday could result in a little additional snow for the area, according to Hofmann.

“There could be some snow showers on Friday, but they would be more scattered,” Hofmann said.

Because the forecast is calling for scattered snow, Hofmann noted that the National Weather Service has not made an accumulation forecast. “It’s too scattered to narrow down at this time.”

Looking forward, Hofmann said, “We are gradually getting warmer overall,” with the pattern of freezing temperatures is “abating slightly.”

Hofmann said that the National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center has temperatures “with enhanced probability of below-normal” for next week.

Beyond next week, Hofmann noted that temperatures could still be below normal, but that they could “be half-a-degree below normal.”

Temperatures for today will reach as high as 30, with an overnight low of 16. Highs for Friday are expected to be around 28 and overnight lows will be in the single digits at 8 degrees.

Visit Twitter.com @NVdaily and NVDaily.com/Weather for the latest updates.

Contact staff writer Kevin Green at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or kgreen@nvdaily.com

Contact staff writer Henry Culvyhouse at 540-465-5137 ext. 184, or hculvyhouse@nvdaily.com