Stop dreaming

Published 10:49 pm Thursday, December 23, 2010

No white Christmas, but snow could come on Sunday

It’s been more than 60 years since Suffolk saw a Christmas Day snowfall that accumulated on the ground.

And when Saturday is done, one more year will have passed without a white Christmas, according to forecasters with the National Weather Service’s Wakefield station.

Although there is a small chance of some snow flurries on Saturday, there’s not much likelihood of accumulation during the day, meteorological technician James Foster said Thursday.

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In fact, there’s a pretty good chance that whatever snow the area does get will be mixed with rain and sleet — Hampton Roads’ well-known “wintry mix” — through the day.

After reaching a high near 43 today, temperatures will gradually drop through the weekend, and the weather could deteriorate significantly through Sunday, forecasters said.

It all depends on the storm that brought California devastating amounts of rain this week and that then headed east, Foster said.

“This storm has not been easy to predict,” he said Thursday morning. “It just moved ashore from the California coast 12 hours ago.”

Much will depend, he said, on how quickly and how far the storm moves off the East Coast after crossing the nation’s interior. If it stays close to the coast, Eastern Virginia could get hit with significant snowfall beginning after 1 a.m. or so on Sunday and continuing until after noon.

“Accumulation in the 4- to 6-inch range is possible if it doesn’t” move quickly offshore, he said, explaining that if a low-pressure cell develops off the coast of Carolina, the storm coming in from the west could be set up to dump hard on Hampton Roads. Conversely, the area could be spared any winter weather at all if the storm moves off the coast quickly.

Whatever happens, there is not likely to be enough snow on Saturday for folks to enjoy a white Christmas, and that’s pretty much just the way things are in Southeast Virginia in December.

Foster said Weather Service records indicate that there have been only five times that Hampton Roads received enough snow to accumulate on Christmas Day. The last time it happened was in 1948, when 0.4 inches of snow fell.