National Weather Service predicts no Snowpocalypse for Portsmouth

By Tom Corrigan -

…Periods of heavy rain along with elevated flooding concerns persist for

portions of California and Oregon…

…Major winter storm to impact the western and central states Friday and

into the weekend…

The upper-level trough responsible for the ongoing storm over the western U.S. will generate a new surface low over the western High Plains by Friday morning. This system is expected to produce a vast area of heavy snow, heavy rain with pockets of freezing rain to the south-central states and much of the East Coast. Some thunderstorms will also be possible

across the Gulf Coast region. Heavy snow will begin by Friday evening over the Central Plains and then progress eastward by the weekend. Additionally, snow is expected across portions of the Northern Plains and Upper Midwest as a cold front drops south.

In the wake of the storm, an arctic surface high will plunge southward from Canada and result in frigid temperatures across the Plains and the Upper Midwest, with temperature departures in the order of 15 to 25 degrees below normal!

A link to the above dire weather predictions appears on the homepage of the National Weather Service in Wilmington, which serves the Portsmouth area.

Unless you plan on traveling to western states or perhaps have relatives in those states, you likely can ignore most of it.

“Because you’re so far south, Portsmouth is likely to have some of the best weather in the area over the next few days,” said weather service meteorologist James Gibson late Thursday afternoon.

Probably the most notable facet of Gibson’s forecast for the next few days, including the coming weekend, is potentially bitter cold temperatures Sunday night and into Monday.

“Temperatures are going to drop like a rock,” Gibson said.

Expect highs in the single digits Sunday night and into Monday morning.

In the meantime, expect a slightly wintry mix of snow and freezing rain. The weather service advises snow accumulations should remain below one inch. A light glaze also will be possible with the freezing drizzle into Friday morning. The weather service advisory states, “Motorists are advised to use extra caution and remain alert for slippery road conditions.”

Officials of the American Automobile Association Foundation for Traffic Safety probably would agree with that last sentence.

According to research by the AAA, about 46 percent of all crashes involving bad weather take place during the winter. Winter storms, bad weather and sloppy road conditions are a factor in nearly half a million crashes and more than 2,000 road deaths every year

“During the winter months, we receive a lot of insurance claims for people sliding off of the road and damaging their vehicles,” says Mark Sisson, vice president of insurance for AAA East Central, which includes south-central Ohio. “If you have to leave the house, make sure you drive slowly and ditch all distractions.”

AAA Insurance offers the following recommendations:

•Stay home. Keep in mind that the best strategy for winter driving may be avoiding it entirely.

•Slow Down. Speed should be adjusted down to account for lower traction when driving on snow or ice.

•Increase your following distance. Extra space between vehicles can decrease the likelihood of an accident caused by skidding.

•Accelerate and decelerate slowly. Gently applying the accelerator to regain traction can help avoid skids.

•Know your brakes. Motorists should keep the heel of their feet on the floor and use the ball of their feet to apply firm, steady pressure on the brake pedal.

•Don’t stop if you can avoid it. There’s a big difference in the amount of inertia it takes to start moving from a full stop versus how much it takes to get moving while still rolling.

If you have a desire to experience a full-blown snowstorm (and maybe test your winter weather driving abilities,) based on Gibson’s comments and information on the weather service website, just head a little north. The weather service is predicting a 100 percent chance of snow and sleet two hours up the road in Columbus on Saturday. There’s about a 30 percent chance of snow again on Sunday. The temperature in the state capital Sunday night is predicted to drop even lower than in Portsmouth, bottoming out at around -2.

Going even further north, in Cleveland along the shores of Lake Erie, three to five inches of snow are predicted for Saturday, with another four to eight inches possible that night. On Sunday, for a change of pace, there is an 80 percent chance of more snow, though no accumulation estimates are given for that day.

By Tom Corrigan