Temps dip, snow may be on way

After mild temperatures and little frozen precipitation to speak of, weather patterns this week could turn into a winter wake-up call.

Brian LaSorsa, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service office in Sterling, said a shift in the jet stream caused Canadian air mass to come down from the northwest and drop temperatures in the area by around 20 degrees coming into Monday. Previously this season, he said the region had seen Pacific air mass.

As a result of the colder temperatures, schools in Frederick, Shenandoah, Warren and Clarke counties reported Monday evening that classes would be delayed by two hours today.

Wind chill has played a role in dropping apparent temperatures to zero and below, which LaSorsa said is expected to continue into Wednesday. He said highs will creep from the low 30s on Wednesday into mid 30s on Thursday.

A weaker system moving into the Ohio valley on Wednesday is expected to graze the West Virginia border, but LaSorsa said that snow coverage east of the mountains would be light or nonexistent.

While LaSorsa said on Monday that he couldn’t give a number estimate for accumulation, he said there is potential for a major snowstorm late this week. He said the system won’t actually hit the U.S. until late Tuesday into Wednesday and the Sterling office would know more about the winter weather potentials by Wednesday.

“Right now, given the fact that it’s going to be cold leading up to it … I think most of the snow would stick on all surfaces during that time Friday and Saturday, if it comes together,” he said.

Although highs could reach into the upper 30s later in the week, the previous cold conditions would mean that any snow is likely to accumulate into the weekend.

“With the temperatures being that close to freezing, it could be a little bit wetter of a snow,” LaSorsa said. “There’s still a lot of uncertainty on that.”

Dulles International Airport has a recorded January snowfall average of around 7.5 inches, which saw its first dusting of snow last Tuesday. LaSorsa estimates that the average January snowfall along the northern Interstate 81 corridor is slightly above Dulles’.

As the system has yet to make landfall, LaSorsa said the area and volume of snowfall could vary and more precise predictions are yet to come.

“What has to come together is the storm system has to strengthen in time and has to take the right track,” he said.

Contact staff writer Rachel Mahoney at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or rmahoney@nvdaily.com