Winter Storm Update: What impacts could we see across the region this weekend?


UPDATE 1/15/21 9:00 p.m.: A Winter Storm Warnings remain in place across most of the Tri-Cites viewing area. This includes all of SW VA, the mountains of NC and TN as well as northern parts of northeast Tennessee through Monday around 7 AM. Winter weather advisories for parts of the Tri-Cities have also been issued and go into effect at 4 AM Sunday morning and last through 7 AM on Sunday.

Here is a look at updated potential snowfall totals through early Monday morning. Read below to see the reason some won’t see as much snow as others.

Saturday Impacts and Timing

No major impacts are expected this afternoon or evening. We are looking at cloudy and cooler conditions for the afternoon with temperatures in the lower 40s. A few snow showers are possible across the mountains. Accumulation is not expected.

Cloudy skies will remain overnight as temperatures dip into the upper 20s. Conditions will start to deteriorate as we head into the late evening hours of our Saturday into the early morning hours of our Sunday.

Sunday Impacts and Timing

Sunday will be cloudy with a chance of snow and a wintry mix early followed by downsloping winds which could turn snow into a mix of rain, freezing rain, sleet and snow then back to snow through the afternoon and evening. 

Icy Conditons Possible Early Sunday

Temperatures this evening are expected to drop into the mid to upper 20s. IF we see temperatures fall into the mid-20s, then we will have to watch out for patches of freezing rain at the onset of the precipitation. Keep in mind some of the overpasses could be very slick. This is especially true for the higher terrain of SW VA and the Piedmont of North Carolina.

The mountains of NC and TN will see the most snowfall from this system because they will stay all snow through the duration of the event. The snow could start falling as early as Sunday morning after midnight and will continue moderately heavy at times through the afternoon and evening.

Our SW Virginia counties will see the onset of the precipitation start as snow then as they warm through the afternoon they will see a transition to a mix and then rain. Sunday evening the colder air will really start to move in, transitioning the rain back to snow.

The Tri-Cities will see the least amount of snowfall from this system due to the downsloping winds that are expected through the afternoon hours. Due to the position of the low, we will see SE winds develop through the afternoon. This creates a downsloping wind component across the Tri-Cities. These winds are drying and warming, both of these will act to dramatically reduce snowfall totals across the area.

Monday Impacts and Timing

Moderate to heavy snow will continue to be possible through early Monday morning. This period is when the Tri-Cites will most likely see almost all of its snowfall. Snow will continue into portions of the late afternoon especially across the mountains of NC, TN and into portions of SW VA.

The system will exit the region by Monday evening with quieter weather expected Tuesday although temperatures will be much cooler.

Delays and or cancellations could be an issue for areas that receive more snowfall. You can keep track of them on our website by following this link for weather-related closures.

Keep in mind sections of I-26 especially into North Carolina could be impassable due to the high snowfall totals expected across the mountains. Don’t be surprised if roads that wind through the mountains are closed temporarily to allow for snow removal.

Updated Snow Totals

Snow accumulations will be possible from Sunday afternoon through Monday afternoon. Snowfall totals will be at least 8 to 12 inches across parts of western North Carolina with over a foot of snow possible in the highest elevations.  Down sloping winds will limit heavy snow across parts of the Tri-Cities, but it does appear that the Tri-Cities will see 1 to 2 inches late into Monday morning.  There will be spots with as much as 3 to 4 inches the farther north and northwest of Johnson City into southwest Virginia you go.  Our northern counties of Virginia and eastern Kentucky will see snowfall accumulations of 3 to 6″.

After our break on Tuesday, we could see some more wintry weather towards the end of the week with rain looking likely Wednesday evening especially.

Stay up to date with weather conditions on-air, online and on your phone with WJHL and Storm Team 11.

We will also have round-the-clock team coverage through the day on Sunday, giving you the latest information on this impactful winter storm.

Stay safe and check back for updates to the forecast!

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