The region could see up to four inches of snow Friday night and between three and seven inches Saturday, says the National Weather Service.
Friday will be mostly cloudy, but snow is likely, and might be heavy, after 1 a.m. Temperatures might drop down to 28 degrees, with wind between nine and 15 mph.
Saturday should have snow before 3 p.m., with winds 15 to 17 mph and temperatures reaching 31 degrees.
In a news release, state police encouraged drivers to be especially cautious on the roads. Drivers should have a window scraper, blanket, water, phone charger and flashlight in the car, the release said.
Drivers should also drive slowly, and wear a seatbelt, the release said.
Areas across Hampton Roads could receive more than eight inches of snow, The National Weather Service reports.
Heaviest accumulations are expected in the Hampton Roads region, which will make for hazardous driving conditions, VDOT said in a news release.
Light snow is expected to fall across the state tonight, with a second storm expected to bring heavy snowfall for central and southeastern Virginia late Friday and Saturday morning.
VDOT crews in the region started treating roads today with salt and other materials to prepare for the storms, VDOT said.
Expect dangerous travel conditions on Saturday along with spotty power outages based on the current forecast, the weather agency reports.
3:30 p.m. - The National Weather Service forecast shows the area may see up to eight inches of snow Saturday during a winter storm.
In its most recent weather forecast update, the weather agency calls for at least six inches and up to 12 inches of snow Saturday in areas throughout Hampton Roads.
The snow is expected to start Friday with flurries early in the day and some snow overnight before picking up before 7 a.m. Saturday, the weather agency reports.
A winter storm watch is in place from 10 p.m. Friday to 10 p.m. Saturday, the weather agency reported.
1:30 p.m. Updated forecasts show Hampton Roads will get snow, but the amount is still in question.
The National Weather Service said the area could receive between four to eight inches of snow. Weather.com has lower snow totals for the areas at three to six inches.
Local forecasts also show freezing temperatures remaining in Hampton Roads until early next week.
11:30 a.m. - VDOT’s Hampton Roads District will pre-treat roads in the region Friday to prepare for potential snowfall this weekend and days of freezing temperatures, according to a news release.
As of Thursday, crews across the district made equipment checks, topped off salt and fuel supplies and notified additional personnel to be ready to work this weekend, VDOT officials said.
VDOT could open an Emergency Operations Center as early as Friday evening to monitor conditions as well as direct the district's response to weather conditions.
Updated forecasts from the National Weather Service predict snow starting during early morning hours Saturday and to increase after 7 a.m.
Drivers are advised to stay off icy and snow-covered roads. VDOT’s pre-treatment helps prevent ice from bonding to the road and assists crews with snow and ice removal, VDOT said.
Roads that have been pre-treated will still be slippery and hazardous when freezing temperatures combine with precipitation, and drivers should should take note, the news release states.
VDOT’s goal is for all state-maintained roads to be passable within 48 hours after a storm ends, with no additional snowfall, officials said.
9 a.m. - The National Weather Service has issued a winter storm watch for the Peninsula from 10 p.m. Friday to 10 p.m. Saturday.
A winter storm watch means there is a potential for heavy snow, sleet, ice on roads that may impact travel, according to the NWS.
Snow could start falling on the Peninsula Thursday night or early Friday morning, but the greatest chance for heavy snow is Saturday, according to the National Weather Service.
The forecast Thursday morning shows an 80 percent chance for heavy snow Saturday with 2 to 4 inches accumulation possible.
Less than 1 inch accumulation is possible Friday night.
A southern storm is expected to creep up the coast and hit Hampton Roads with its first snow of the winter season this weekend. But whether the snow will be a dusting or a dumping or something in between is up for grabs.
"There's still uncertainty," said Lyle Alexander, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service's Wakefield office. Alexander said the office would have a much better idea of the weekend's forecast Thursday, but predictions Wednesday afternoon called for 3 to 5 inches of snowfall on Saturday for the Peninsula. Alexander said any snow is likely to stick around until Monday.
The storm that's bringing the snow is coming from the southeast United States and may drop snow as far south as Alabama, Alexander said. He added that it was unusually far south and would just clip Hampton Roads.
But predictions from other services called for different amounts. As of Wednesday afternoon, weather.com predicted 1 to 3 inches of snow — accuweather.com predicted 8 to 12 inches.
Alexander said there have been inconsistencies in predicting the impact of this storm, likely stemming from forecasters placing different emphasis on their models. He said NWS will get a number of predictions and average them out, leading to the prediction the service releases. He said that method usually produces the best results and a good forecast this far out from a weather event.
He said he did not expect snowfall this weekend to reach a double-digit inch count. "It's a rare event to get that amount of snow, and this doesn't look like a rare event," he said.
Still days from the first chance of snowfall, people are bracing for the chance of cold, icy weather.
"After forecasts came out yesterday, our phone was ringing off the hook," said Larry Wilson, owner of Peninsula Hardwood Mulch Inc. His company has eight front-end loaders that it deploys when snow hits the ground on the Peninsula, mostly clearing parking lots of churches, offices and other buildings. This weekend, their biggest potential job is the Hampton Roads Convention Center.
"I honestly hope it doesn't get too bad," Wilson said, confessing that plowing used to be fun, but he now despises snow. "You're stuck out there for hours, just drinking coffee, 5-hour Energy, eating chocolate bars," he said with a laugh.
But his small fleet is ready, even though he doesn't know if they'll be needed. "People really depend on us," he said.
Virginia Department of Transportation spokeswoman Paula Miller said the agency is waiting until Thursday morning forecasts before it decides to begin weather-proofing roads. But she said they're ready to act immediately if the forecast calls for it. "We prepare all year for bad weather," she said. Thus far VDOT has only spread brine on some secondary roads in Franklin.
At VDOT's Seaford area headquarters in York, personnel spent much of Tuesday and Wednesday calibrating equipment, receiving and storing additional salt and ensuring their brine was spreading properly.
The Seaford headquarters has seven trucks that it can deploy to plow its coverage area, which stretches from the Hampton city line to the Yorktown Naval Weapons Station, according to the headquarters Superintendent Brian Gentry. If they were to go out, the trucks would be sporting brand new LED lights that improve visibility and three-plow blades custom painted by students from York County high schools.
Gentry said it's not unusual for reports of snow to amount to nothing — for him, this time of year consists of a lot of putting equipment on the trucks and taking it back off. "We just prepare regardless. If snow doesn't fall, we're just back to normal work," he said.
On Wednesday, Gentry didn't make any snowfall predictions. He said once he had more concrete information, he could start scheduling crews and figuring out what they would specifically need and how many trucks to deploy.
Reyes can be reached by phone at 757-247-4692.