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Winter weather and snow chance update

Updated 1/6/17 @ 12:01pm CST:

We’ve watched this winter weather event from the start and it’s definitely been a complicated system to forecast.

The most recent models we’ve seen show the snow stay more to our East having less effect on Marion County. While we’re not ruling out a trace amount of accumulation or a dusting, the most accumulation and notable snowfall amounts look to stay to our East and South — specifically to the East of Chattanooga.  Based on current models we anticipate the higher accumulations to be seen across North Central and Northeast Alabama and part of North Central and Northwest Georgia and into Tennessee and North Carolina.

The cut-off line for the snow seems to fall directly at the Marion County area and over parts of Hamilton County, which will result in this next round probably robbing Marion County snow lover’s of the snowfall they so desire. Folks from Ooltewah, Apison, Cleveland and well into East Tennessee and North Carolina will see the most notable snowfall amounts. Snowfall amounts to our south will vary, but could range from 3-5 inches in some locations, while areas in our more immediate area (Hamilton and Bradley counties) will likely see no more than 1-1.5 inches with some locally-heavier amounts in some places or higher elevations.

All said, this will not be a large snowfall event for the Sequatchie Valley, but the question of seeing some snow flurries and light accumulations aren’t out of the question if snow banding sets up a bit further to the North or banding has somewhat of a ricochet effect as the moisture continues to move further East and out of the area….seeing that ricochet back (or spread out as it moves out) could be possible bringing some flurries with it. Drier air (as indicated on forecast models) looks to just suppress the moisture the further north you go, including the Marion County area.

Despite the lack of snowfall, on the heels of this system comes extremely cold air which could create more problems for travel. The temps for Friday are only expected to reach the low 30s — struggling to get above freezing — as we’ll wake up to even colder temps in the low to mid teens on Saturday morning with much the same setup for Saturday with temps staying close to freezing.

After seeing any amount of precipitation this becomes a potential for travel problems on area roadways as we get into the weekend period. Water frozen on secondary or back roads could create black ice in spots and any leftover accumulation on roads in our higher elevations could become icy as well. Secondary and back roads also could be of concern if any accumulation there melts and then re-freezes in the overnight.

TDOT and local road crews have been working hard to brine and treat roadways in hopes to prevent travel problems, but using extreme caution and avoiding unnecessary travel are always suggested as a preventative measure. We’ll, of course, keep you updated on that as it develops.

Night time lows will drop even colder as we go into Saturday night and Sunday morning temps will be close to 10-12 degrees in the valley with single digit temps possible in the higher elevations and along the Plateau.

Sunday stays cold with another cold morning in the mid to upper teens on Monday; however, a warm-up begins as we get into the midweek.

Stay with MarionCountyMessenger.com for the latest — and any changes we’ll let you know about here and on Facebook and Twitter first!

Updated 1/6/17 @ 12:01am CST:
Winter Weather Possible Across The Sequatchie Valley and Cumberland Plateau Friday Through Early Saturday.

Overall, not much has really changed. The forecast remains complex with the upcoming system(s) that will impact the southeast US. First, a weakening upper level disturbance will push eastward across the area Friday morning and into the early afternoon. We will be on the southern extent of this feature with a dusting to perhaps an inch of snow expected. Better chances reside up in Grundy County and the northern and especially northwestern part of Marion County.

By the late afternoon and evening, gulf moisture will begin to lift northeast through central AL and northern/central Georgia. Temperatures will be cold enough to support snowfall, however, the northwest extent of this moisture is in question. Guidance is split to say the least with the Sequatchie

Valley/Cumberland Plateau in the cusp of major variations in the final outcomes. A great number of short term models have some snowfall occurring where as other global (lower resolution) models have little if any additional snowfall.

So, here is what we have to work with. All forecast models suggest the best shot of the heaviest snow (albeit still light in most cases) residing in the southeastern part of the county. Less amounts are forecast to the northwest (Monteagle area). We’ll split the difference and say the Whiteside area may get an additional inch or so where Monteagle will likely get an additional quarter to ½ inch of snowfall.

It should be noted that the higher resolution models have been outperforming the global models with recent activity upstream across the plains. If things continue as is it would be difficult to ignore their “more snowy” output.

With this system, there is a fairly high “bust” potential. A “bust” is simply when the forecast fails to materialize. It would only take a matter of 25 miles or so in this case for two very different scenarios to take place. 1) just a few flurries or 2) a couple inches of snow with travel problems. Stay tuned folks! This one will be a nail-biter!

 

Previous Update — Updated 1/5/17 @ 2:34pm CST:

A very complex weather pattern will unfold across the southeastern portions of the country as we head into the weekend. This is one of the rare times where precipitation type is NOT in question. All precipitation would fall as snow, however, the real question is how much moisture will be available around our neck of the woods.

First, a weakening upper level disturbance will produce light snow beginning during the day on Friday. At this point, it appears this feature will provide enough support for snow showers and flurries. Some light accumulations can’t be ruled out with around a dusting to an inch possible for valley locations and up to 2 inches possible in the higher elevations can’t be ruled out through Friday evening.

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As a stronger upper level system moves into the region, a surface low pressure is forecast to develop along or just off the Gulf of Mexico coast. The low is expected to slide east and northeast with time. Snow will develop on the north and northwest side of the low, the only problem (for all of you snow fanatics) is the low pressure may track too far south for a more significant snowfall for our region (in fact, some guidance shows south/central AL and central Georgia and Coastal North Carolina getting several inches of snow with our area getting only lighter amounts if anything at all).

That said, there is the possibility of additional light snow on Saturday, however, exact amounts will be questionable depending on the track of the low pressure. At this juncture, it’s possible to see an additional dusting to around an inch with the higher amounts residing along the AL/GA border. It’s going to be a close one and the snowfall accumulation gradient will be very tight (meaning Atlanta may get several inches, however, our friends in Dade and Walker Counties may see just a few flurries).

Now, while snow accumulations might not be of an exciting level for our snow lovers out there; really our big issue and main concern here is the area roadways.

Temperatures on Friday are very likely not going to get above freezing after dropping below freezing tonight. And any precipitation we see could become problematic for secondary and untreated roads along with bridges and overpasses as snow melts and then refreezes as ice. Existing moisture from previous rains could also be of concern in some areas although not widespread. And with temps dropping well into the teens and 20s tomorrow night, it will be a concern again going in to Saturday morning.

Our biggest concerns with the upcoming weather is the roads. You can guarantee there will be slick roads in places. If all we see is a slight dusting of snow it could prove dangerous for slick roads. Especially given the hard freeze forecast for Friday night. Travel could be tough in spots especially by Saturday morning and even more if you’re headed further south to Atlanta or Birmingham or to parts of western North Carolina.

Regardless, any deviation in the forecast low track and associated precipitation shield may cause significant differences in the forecast. As of now it does look like much of our region will be a bit too dry for something more substantial. We’ll update again later tonight as new forecast guidance and trends develop. Regardless, stay warm! It will be COLD! And stay with MarionCountyMessenger.com for the latest updates! 

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The National Weather Service has issued a number of watches, warnings, and advisories for the region.

Winter Weather Advisory is in effect for Marion Co., TN, Franklin Co., TN, Sequatchie Co., TN, Grundy Co., TN, and Jackson Co., AL beginning Friday afternoon through Saturday morning.

Winter Storm Watch has been issued for Hamilton Co., TN beginning 1pm EST Friday through 7am EST Saturday.

Winter Storm Warning has been issued for Dade Co., GA from 1pm EST Friday through 1pm EST Saturday.

A Winter Weather Advisory means light wintry precipitation can be expected with hazardous travel conditions possible.

A Winter Storm Watch means significant accumulations of wintry precipitation may be possible. A watch usually evolves to a Winter Storm Warning or Winter Weather Advisory with time and forecast certainty. Residents are urged to follow weather forecast closely and anticipate the possibility of wintry precipitation within the next 24-48 hours.

A Winter Storm Warning means significant accumulations of wintry precipitation are expected with dangerous travel conditions. Residents are urged to follow weather forecasts closely and plan to delay travel unless absolutely necessary.

 

PREVIOUS UPDATE — Updated 1/5/17 @ 10:27am CST:

MarionCountyMessenger.com’s team of meteorologists and news staff is working carefully to bring you the latest on the upcoming chance for winter weather that could impact the Sequatchie Valley.

While this is still a very challenging forecast, it’s become a bit clearer what we can anticipate to expect over the next 24 hours or more. We have the cold air needed for snow and we’ll have moisture — just not as much moisture as we originally saw in weather models. And yes…it could still change!

So, yes…we do have some snow showers on the way for our area. Just don’t expect much…at least not in the valley. Higher elevations could see a bit more, but the further east of I-75 you go in Tennessee or south towards Atlanta — you could see several inches in some places there depending on how snow banding sets up over the period.

Now, while snow accumulations might not be of an exciting level for our snow lovers out there; really our big issue and main concern here is the area roadways.

Temperatures on Friday are very likely not going to get above freezing after dropping below freezing tonight. And any precipitation we see could become problematic for secondary and untreated roads along with bridges and overpasses as snow melts and then refreezes as ice. Existing moisture from previous rains could also be of concern in some areas although not widespread. And with temps dropping well into the teens and 20s tomorrow night, it will be a concern again going in to Saturday morning.

Our biggest concerns with the upcoming weather is the roads. You can guarantee there will be slick roads in places. If all we see is a slight dusting of snow it could prove dangerous for slick roads. Especially given the hard freeze forecast for Friday night. Travel could be tough in spots especially by Saturday morning and even more if you’re headed further south to Atlanta or Birmingham or to parts of western North Carolina.

So here’s the timeline we’re thinking you’ll see for the upcoming snow/winter weather…

  • Snow showers develop Thursday evening and night in parts of Grundy County and along the Cumberland Plateau in Marion County. Also, our higher elevations in the county could see some light accumulation from this first round. Parts of Bledsoe, Rhea, Meigs, and McMinn will also likely see some snow showers with this as they remain isolated further to our south. Accumulations of just a trace up to 1/2-inch are expected, but we’re leaning closer to trace or dusting in this case. It won’t be much on the grass or roads, but the cold temps combined with what moisture we do see could be hazardous for travel. Stay weather aware and drive carefully!
  • Friday midday and afternoon sees another round of snow showers as a light snow band moves through. This is the one that’s been hardest to pinpoint for certain, but it looks as though it will dump the most snow over North Georgia. Accumulations of a 1/2-inch or more could be seen in some areas.
  • Friday night and early Saturday as the low strengthens off to our south, another chance for snow showers develops in the late night and early morning hours — especially to the east of I-75 and in North Carolina and North Central and Northeast Georgia and parts of North Central and Northeast Alabama. This could produce some locally-higher accumulations in those areas.
  • Any snow or wintry mix should diminish by Saturday afternoon.
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Snowfall accumulation predictions from NWS office in Morristown for Tennessee

As you can tell, there’s just not a lot expected at this time. It would seem that most of the area will see at least some snow fall, but accumulations could be little or nothing in parts of Tennessee — averaging again from a trace to 1/2-inch. Accumulations in Georgia could be higher depending on where banding takes place. North Georgia and south of Walker County is on track for 1-3″ while DeKalb County, AL and Fort Payne could see about the same. Areas further south in Georgia (Atlanta and Metro) could see a few inches.

As mentioned several times in our previous updates and earlier in this post, we have been watching this weather event very closely and it’s been a very interesting and difficult event to accurately forecast. Any winter weather event is slightly more difficult due to all of the variables that go into forecasting snow. Predicting rain or even the chance for severe weather is slightly easier because surface, upper atmosphere, and other temps and variables aren’t as ‘in-play’ as they are with winter weather. One slight change and your forecast busts in one way or another. And that’s why we’ll continue watching this carefully as the snow banding starts to set up tomorrow afternoon. Also how will the bigger amount of moisture to our south track? Depending on whether it goes further north or south could show even more impact on our weather.

Stay with MarionCountyMessenger.com for the latest information for the Sequatchie Valley!

 

 

 

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