A little snow and a lot of rain

Published 9:27 pm Friday, February 5, 2010

Suffolk residents should be spared the worst of the winter storm that began blowing through Virginia Friday morning as it headed up the coast.

Meteorologists said Friday that Suffolk likely would wind up with an inch or two of rain through lunchtime today, followed by up to three inches of snow as the day wore on.

A flood watch that was in effect overnight had been set to expire by 8 a.m. this morning.

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With the heaviest snow expected in the northern part of the state and spilling over into Washington, D.C., Maryland, New Jersey and Delaware — roughly along the route traced by I-95 — Hampton Roads was preparing for heavy rain and strong, gusting winds.

Besides the flooding the nor’easter could bring, the major concern for the area is in the potential for downed trees and power lines, as strong winds blow trees that are rooted in already-soggy ground, according to Andy McLaurin, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Wakefield.

Winds are expected to blow from 15 to 21 miles per hour, with gusts up to about 40. The strongest winds are expected closest to the coast, he said, noting that North Suffolk could be expected to have stronger winds than downtown, for instance.

Portions of Western Virginia and especially areas of Northern Virginia were expecting snowfall of “historic” proportions, according to accuweather.com, which was predicting more than two feet of snow for the northernmost part of the state.

Snow was expected to have been heavy for much of the night Friday and into Saturday in those areas, and authorities were discouraging travel of any kind. Many flights into and out of the affected area already had been canceled by Friday afternoon.

Locally, snow is considered likely this afternoon, and the temperature is expected to drop to around 29 by 4 p.m., according to the NWS. The snow was predicted to stop by around 11 p.m., with total accumulations of an inch or two and temperatures dropping to around 17 in the area.

Sunday is expected to be sunny, with highs near freezing, and Monday should bring more of the same, with temperatures rising to around 40.