February 17, 2021 #TriCitiesWx Forecast

There are moments that occur in life that you just know are going to simultaneously intriguing, aggravating, and difficult all at the same time. When it comes to forecasting winter weather that’s going to change from one precipitation type to another multiple times, that’s something that is very difficult to get right, aggravating to get wrong, and intriguing to learn how what happened the way it did. That’s what’s going on with tonight’s Tri-Cities Weather Blog forecast!

I’ll be the first to tell you that timing of all this is going to be rather difficult to handle. I can pretty much figure out when precipitation will start and stop, but all the changes are the hard part. So, here’s what I think will happen, and come tomorrow we’ll glance at this outlook and see what’s what:

  • Tonight-Cloudy skies, light snow developing. May mix with rain or sleet. Low 33. 0-3 inches of snow possible in the Tri-Cities overnight.
  • Thursday-Light snow changes to rain early in the day. Rain could be heavy at times. High 45.
  • Thursday night-Rain showers change over to snow, amounting to an inch more accumulation at most. Lows near 30.
  • Friday-Cloudy, windy and cold with snow flurries or snow showers. High 37, but dropping.
  • Saturday-Partly to mostly sunny. Highs near 40.
  • Sunday-Mostly sunny. Highs near 50.

All of this is happening thanks to two systems, really. The first is low pressure that is currently in the Gulf of Mexico south of Louisiana. It’s going to go through the South and up the coast of the Carolinas in the coming days, bringing another run of crazy weather.

This evening should be dry for the most part, so if you need to go out and get things to prepare, you can do it. After about 10 PM or so, things should start, maybe as light rain. Then, it’ll change from that to a mix of rain and snow to all snow pretty quickly. We could see half an inch of snow to up to 3 inches in spots by morning. That entirely depends on elevation, how much rain and/or sleet mixes in with the snow, and the intensity of the snow once it does get started. A lot of that depends on temperatures, so it’s a best bet that if you’re in the higher elevations, there will be more snow.

Sometime tomorrow morning, the snow will change over to rain. With temperatures today nearly 5 degrees warmer than anticipated, the initial change to snow and then the change to rain during the day could very well make the duration of snow (and thus the final amount) smaller. That’s why I put 0 to 3 inches in the outlook. Because any of the above could happen. Once things change over to rain tomorrow, things should be fine from a travel standpoint after an initial slushy period.

This mess changes from rain back to snow tomorrow night, but the system should be moving on before it gets cold enough to give us too much snow accumulation. I figure another inch of snow by Friday morning will be about it, and we might not even see that much. Then, Friday will be a cloudy, windy, raw day with temperatures dropping through the 30s in the afternoon.

Thankfully, we start drying out and warming up on Saturday. It’ll still be a chilly day with highs near 40, but warm enough to melt whatever we’re left with, or at least dry it up. Sunday looks rain free as of now, as we warm up in the afternoon to near 50 degrees.

That’s the extent of it…and took a lot of explanation! All of this is dependent on the temperature not only at the ground, but up to the first 5,000 feet from it. That’s a very difficult thing to accomplish, so that’s my final try for this event. If we wake up to a foot of snow or nothing, I won’t be terribly shocked. That said, I’m taking my work stuff home, just in case I need a work from home day tomorrow.

Thanks for checking here for the forecast, as complicated as it is! Be safe over the next day or so, and I’ll have a new forecast tomorrow afternoon!

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