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                   Saturday, December 12, 2009 - 9:09AM

December 12-13 freezing rain event

By DAN ROBINSON
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Update 9:26AM Saturday, (Posted via Office from Charleston, WV):
Getting this update sequence started for the freezing rain event slated to start later today. Currently is looks like the greatest threat will be east of the Appalachians in the typical cold-air damming scenario east of the mountains. However, the surface dewpoints are extremely low across the entire region - meaning that wet-bulbing (evaporative cooling) will play a significant role in combating the warming once the precip arrives. All models show ambient temps rapidly rising as the warm air surges north, meaning the icing period should be short in duration for most areas outside of the eastern Appalachian foothills/Blue Ridge. I think virtually everywhere along/north of an Interstate 40 line from the Appalachians to the Mississippi River are at risk for freezing rain icing during this event.

The other factor that will be in play for most areas is a frigid ground due to multiple days of highs close to freezing and nighttime lows in the teens. This means that even if air temps manage to rise above the 32F mark, the ground may still be cold enough for icing to occur briefly.

Even though the eastern mountain areas look to be the hotspots, I doubt I will be heading that way due to once again, the icing there occuring predominantly at night. Furthermore, I'm not entirely confident of Charleston escaping this unscathed, even though models have us rapidly warming after midnight. The other risk areas to the north and west will be under the gun at nearly the same time as Charleston's threat window, meaning that by covering Charleston, I will have to forfeit the opportunity to pursue anything outside of town. I also do not want to be long-distance traveling in the middle of a freezing rain event, for obvious reasons. In a nutshell, this looks like a 'stay in town' chase situation.

I think Charleston's greatest risk time will be after midnight tonight. We will be warming up some during the day today, exactly how much will play a huge role in the risk level later tonight. The other wild card is if any precip develops and/or moves into the area early, which will increase the icing risk anywhere that occurs.

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