Keep an eye on the sky

Published 12:00 am Thursday, January 20, 2005

Was yesterday’s (Wednesday) snowfall an omen of things to come?

The answer lies within which weather forecast you believe.

While the majority of the regional television meteorologists are calling for another round of the &uot;white stuff&uot; this weekend, the leading source of their information – the National Weather Service – isn’t as quick to predict an all-snow event.

NWS officials at the Wakefield, Va. office (which covers northeastern North Carolina and southside Virginia) are predicting a mixed bag of winter weather on Saturday and Sunday. One forecast model is calling for mostly rain in the Roanoke-Chowan area during that period.

While uncertainty remains on the actual track of a weekend weather system heading southeastward, NWS officials offered an opinion on Wednesday that another shot of cold air expected to arrive later today may stall over the southeastern coast and lift northward as a warm front. If that scenario does unfold, the Roanoke-Chowan area could be in for a cold rain on Saturday where there is a 40 percent chance of precipitation with highs in the mid 30’s. That temperature isn’t expected to fall very far Saturday night where the low will be just above the freezing mark.

Sunday may prove the trickiest day to forecast. With another shot of cold air predicted to make its way southward, the atmosphere will begin to mix at different heights. That sets-up the possibility of mixed precipitation – rain, freezing rain, sleet and snow.

If snow does begin to fall on Sunday, the question is, &uot;how much?&uot; That depends on whether or not the cold air arrives quick enough for an accumulating amount of snow before the moisture departs. NWS officials say that scenario is too early to predict.

Sunday’s high, under cloudy skies, is expected to be in the upper 30’s with an overnight low of 27 degrees.

Meanwhile, there’s another chance of snow later today (Thursday) where an &uot;Alberta Clipper&uot; – a fast-moving, moisture-laden cold front that forms over Canada – will dive south and bring a 50 percent chance of snow showers later in the day or early evening. Today’s high will be around the 40-degree mark. Tonight’s low is predicted in the mid 20’s.

This winter has already proved busy as far as snow is concerned. It started on Dec. 26 where a snowstorm dumped between 8-to-13 inches of snow across the region. Last weekend, a weak system brought light snow on Sunday, but it melted as soon as it made contact with a surface on the ground.