Never Count a Coastal Low Out

Written by Jamey Singleton. Posted in News

Historically, Many Coastal Storms Have Surprised Us at the Last Minute


UPDATE: I now expect a solid 3-6" of snow for Franklin County and SML Friday night into Saturday morning, ending around noon Saturday. Roanoke will see 2-5", with Martinsville and Danville getting 4-10". 


First things first: there is still plenty of time for whatever forecast you are hearing to change before Saturday. Even as late as Friday night, the forecast may change. So keep an eye on it. That said, right now, I'm not going to be forecasting a huge winter storm for southwest and west centeral Virginia this weekend. It just isn't in the cards. At least right now. However, many areas do have a good shot at accumulating snow starting on Thursday and lasting on and off into Saturday.

The first system Thursday into early Friday will likely give the NRV and Highlands a solid coating of snow. Some areas could see 1-2" from Thursday afternoon into Friday morning. The Roanoke Valley, Lynchburg and Southside will see streaks of snow, hit or miss. Where the bands of snow set up, a coating of snow could make roads slick by the end of the day Thursday and for the morning communte Friday.

Then on Friday night into Saturday, what looks to be a fairly disorganized storm system will be moving from the gulf to the east coast. Models show this system moving very fast and not making any progress up the Virginia coast, instead moving more east off the coast of North Carolina during the day. Right now it looks like mainly light snow developing Friday night across the NRV, developing east into Southside by Saturday morning. A general 1-4" is expected, mainly south of Roanoke. The northern edge of the snow may still give Roanoke and Lynchburg a solid coating, however. The Highlands will probably miss the second event. Areas from Danville to South Boston may see closer to 3-4". 

Keep in mind, I'm not locking our these snow totals, however. Areas just to our south, from Charlotte to Raleigh, may see the most snow from the storm early Saturday. Raleigh may end up with 3-8". Keep in mind, a small tug to the NW, and our forecast will change quite a bit.

Just for kicks, let's travel back in time to Christmas Day, 2010.  Similar to this week, a mix of excitement and dread had been building as meteorologists watched a possible winter weather event developing near the east coast. Like this week, various models had all kinds of back and forth solutions, going from the chance of a strong winter storm to no snow at all. A low developing off the Carolina coast was forecast to travel too far offshore.

Then, just when everyone had all but given up on any snow, the Christmas eve models started to show a westward trend with the moisture. Still, the snow was forecast to be east of our area, from Richmond to Virginia Beach. 

Christmas Day, 2010, many woke up to a light, but steady snow. Accumulations ranged from 2-4" for many in our local area. Snow totals for the 2010 event are shown below.

A similar event surprised us in 2014 with surprise snow falling south of Lynchburg into Chatham, Southside, SW into the foothills of Franklin and Henry County. 

Why do models sometimes miss these coastal storms? 

One reason may be the natural temperature contrast that's created from land-sea interaction. While land cools quickly after a cold air outbreak, water takes much longer to cool. And don't forget, there's a warm gulf stream that sits right off the eastern seaboard. Storms like to form and then track where the temperatures contrast the most. Obviously not every storm rides the coast, but if the right conditions are nearby, the natural gradient can influence the path of the storm.

Models can also overlook something known as latent heat release over the ocean. As a storm system develops showers and even storms off the coast, the formation of clouds and rain (condensation) releases latent heat back into the atmosphere. The heat that's added to the environment off the coast further increases the temperature contrast near the coast, and can alter the path of the low.

Both of these factors CAN'T overcome the fact that the dynamics - the heart of the storm - will tend to keep both storms weaker and faster. But they can alter the storm's movement just a little. And in this case, a little movement will make all the difference in the world. 

So while a general light snow event is what appears most likely Thursday-Saturday, remember how quickly things have changed for us in the past. 

I'll be sure to update you if things change. Stay tuned!







Franklin Co. Conducting Broadband Needs Survey

Written by Jamey Singleton. Posted in News

broadband3Franklin County has partnered with the Center for Innovative Technology (CIT) to conduct a county-wide broadband needs assessment survey. The survey will collect information from citizens and businesses regarding Internet usage, current service, access, and needs. Information gathered from the survey will be used to create the county’s strategic broadband plan. Franklin County wants to ensure that citizens and businesses have the level of service they need today and are well prepared for the future.

The survey is the initial step in CIT’s Broadband Path, a six-step process that leverages CIT’s experience and Virginia’s Broadband Toolkit to develop a tailor-made strategic plan and seek out private sector partners that will help meet the County’s specific goals.

“It is important to understand how the citizens are leveraging the Internet and where there is a need for expanded or improved service so the County can take steps to meet those needs and ensure its citizens have the best possible quality of life,” said Sandie Terry, CIT’s Vice President of Broadband.

The survey, which is open for responses until February 28 th , is available online at For those with no access, or unreliable internet, paper surveys will be mailed throughout the county as well as distributed at various County buildings. If you would like to request a paper survey, call (540) 483-3030. Please complete only one survey per household.

“We seek to improve broadband access and reliability at the best value for Franklin County taxpayers” said Brent Robertson, County Administrator. “Your survey response marks our first step down the Broadband Path.”

If you have any questions or comments about the Broadband Needs Assessment, e-mail  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with the word BROADBAND in the Subject Line.



Sheriff's Dept. Urges Holiday Travelers to 'Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over'

Written by Jamey Singleton. Posted in News

635903350315316718-594807173 Drunk-DrivingFRANKLIN CO. - While the holiday season is a great time to eat, drink, and be merry, celebrating the holidays with alcohol can also lead to an increased number of impaired drivers travelling on our roadways. To help keep roads safe for holiday travelers, state and local law enforcement will be looking for drunk drivers during a special Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over enforcement mobilization from December 16, 2016, to January 1,2017.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 35,092 people were killed in motor vehicle traffic crashes in 2015, and 29 percent (10,265) of those fatalities occurred in a crash where the driver had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) over the legal limit of .08. In just the month of December that year, 840 people lost their lives as a result of drunk-driving- related crashes.

Nationally, from 2011 to 2015, a total of 14,034 people lost their lives in motor vehicle traffic crashes during the month of December, and 28 percent (3,983) died in a crash that involved a driver with a BAC of .08 or higher. Many of these tragedies could have been avoided if the impaired driver had simply not gotten behind the wheel. But during the holiday season, too many people take to the roads after consuming alcohol, putting themselves, their passengers and others on the road at risk of a getting in traffic crash, incurring serious injury, or worse—death.

That’s why law enforcement will be stepping up patrols and looking for drunk drivers. Anyone who gets caught driving while impaired faces significant legal and financial consequences.

With a DUI, you face jail time, the loss of your driver’s license, and higher insurance rates, along with dozens of other expenses, including attorney fees, court costs, car towing and repairs, and lost wages due to time off from work. Also, there’s the humiliation and consequences of telling family, friends and employers of your arrest.

If you are celebrating the holidays with alcohol, plan for a sober ride home ahead of time and never risk driving after drinking. Even refusing to take a breath test in many jurisdictions has consequences, including the immediate loss of your driver’s license and the impoundment of your vehicle. If you think you won’t pass a breath test, you don’t belong behind the wheel.

Travelers should follow these trips to stay safe on the road this holiday season:

● If you will be drinking, plan on not driving. Plan your safe ride home before you start the party. Designate a sober driver ahead of time.

● If you become intoxicated, do not drive for any reason. Call a taxi, phone a sober friend or family member, or use public transportation. Try NHTSA’s SaferRide mobile app, which allows users to call a taxi or friend and identify their location so they can be picked up.

● If someone you know has been drinking, do not let that person get behind the wheel. Take their keys, take them home, or help them arrange a sober ride.

● If you see an impaired driver on the road, contact your local law enforcement. Your actions could help save someone’s life.

Enjoy the festivities, but never drive while impaired. The Franklin County Sheriff's Office will be on the lookout for drunk drivers this holiday season. Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over.