How much snow?

Published 9:57 pm Wednesday, January 4, 2017

You may have heard some pretty bleak predictions about the snow that’s likely headed our way late Friday and into Saturday.

Facebook, for one, is awash in alarming forecasts.

But the folks at the National Weather Service advise a bit of restraint.

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“Some of the forecasts that have come out would be forecasting some rare events,” meteorologist Lyle Alexander said Wednesday afternoon.

“To forecast an extreme event is something you’d want to have a lot of confidence in.”

Hence, it’s more likely that Suffolk will get the three to five inches of snow the NWS is expecting than the 12 to 15 inches some sources are forecasting.

Expectations should be a little easier to set by late Thursday afternoon, Alexander said.

That’s when the latest data will be available about the cold air building up in Canada and the disturbances in the southern jet stream that will be affecting our weather. That means area residents should really start paying attention to the forecast starting tomorrow evening. And, according to Alexander, they should be careful whom they trust.

“In my years of experience, the weather service has the best expertise in how to decipher the different data out there,” he said. “We try not to be too hyped up on the forecast. We try to be objective.”

Objectively looking at the weather situation as it was presenting itself on Wednesday, Alexander said Suffolk residents could probably expect to see some snow falling sometime after midnight Friday. The snow could continue into noon or so on Saturday, he added.

Even more of a factor for area residents than the snow could be the bitter cold that’s expected through the weekend and into the beginning of next week.

But even that’s subject to interpretation, Alexander cautioned.

Some models were suggesting that low temperatures on Monday would drop into the single-digits range. The NWS is forecasting a low of 20 degrees at 7 a.m. Sunday and a low of 19 degrees at the same time on Monday.

“If we have good snow cover, and the sky is clear and a calm wind, we could go a bit lower,” Alexander said. “But again, it’s kind of a rare thing to get down to single digits in Suffolk.”

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