Snow, cold, ice, oh my god! It’s winter weather prep week in Virginia

Happy Monday and welcome to another edition of the Beyond The Forecast Weather Newsletter!

We’ll turn the calendar page to December later this week, which means it’s time to start thinking about winter weather in Virginia. The National Weather Service (NWS) declared Winter Weather Preparedness Week this week.

Each day through Friday, they highlight a different theme to prepare you for the snow, cold and ice ahead.


Knowing the difference between winter weather alerts is incredibly important. When a winter storm is a day or two away, a WATCH is issued. You still have time to complete the storm preparations while under supervision. Conversely, when a Winter Storm WARNING is issued, your preparations should be complete and it’s time to hole up.

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Less severe winter weather systems are covered by a winter weather guide.


According to the NWS, winter storms can bring the most dangerous weather to the Commonwealth each year. They specifically highlight the January 2016 winter storm to show the impact that snow, cold and wind can have. Some parts of Northern Virginia received up to four feet of snow!

We don’t expect as much snow in our prospect area this year (unless you live somewhere like Snowshoe). Find your city on the map below to find out how much snow will fall in your garden this winter. We explained the methodology behind the forecast earlier this month in our Winter Weather Outlook.

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Excessive cold can occur a few times each winter. In general, we perceive temperatures or wind chills below 0° as “excessively” cold.

Below are some tips on how to brave the cold. Pay special attention to the tidbit of space heating so you can avoid home fires.

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If you’ve lived in Southwest and Central Virginia for a while, you’re probably familiar with freezing rain and sleet.

Here’s a helpful reminder to tell the difference: freezing rain “sticks” and sleet “pings.”

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In general, freezing rain setups are more dangerous than sleet situations. That’s because roads get slick and ice buildup can topple trees and cause power outages.


Finally, we conclude the winter weather prep week with tips for winter driving.

One of the smartest things you can do is prepare an emergency supply kit to keep in your vehicle. Keep your car fueled and maintained up to date.

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You can engage with NWS meteorologists this winter weather prep week! NWS Blacksburg is hosting a webinar Thursday evening and will answer your questions about winter weather.

They will also teach how to properly take a snowfall measurement. If you are interested, you can register online for the webinar.

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We’ll get a taste of wintry temperatures and winds as we head into December. Meteorologist Chris Michaels tracks the front that will trigger the cold snap in our daily forecast article.

You can always go to for specific forecast details for your zone, whether it’s the Roanoke Valley, Southside, the Highlands or elsewhere in Southwest and Central Virginia. Know your zone!

In case you missed it, we publish great weather and science content on Here are a few links from the past week to check out:

If you prefer to receive your weather information via social media, you can follow your local weather authority on Facebook and Twitter.

You can also follow me on social media. I’m on Facebook and Twitter Consequences!

– Justin McKee

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