National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce


A large upper trough slowly moved from the Plains to the Mississippi River Valley from February 18th to 19th. This allowed for a prolonged period of moist SW flow in the mid levels to occur over the eastern CONUS during this time. Several spokes of shortwave energy in the flow aloft produced waves of precipitation over the eastern part of the country from the 18th to the 19th. Locally, there were two distinct waves of precipitation that moved across our area: one that occurred during the early morning-midday on the 18th and a second wave of light to moderate precipitation that moved across the area during the early to mid morning on the 19th. Strong surface high pressure centered from the Midwest to New England helped to supply low-level cold air to the area, as a prolonged Classic Cold Air Damming regime was in place throughout the duration of the event. With warmer air present aloft (with further warming from 925-700 mb throughout much of the event), precipitation fell in the form of sleet and freezing rain across most of the area during the morning of the 18th. NE flow off the water allowed precipitation to remain rain during the 18th to 19th across coastal portions of E/SE Virginia and NE NC. Most of the freezing rain during the morning of the 18th was confined to a 50 to 75 mile wide area with mainly sleet to the NW and rain to the SE. There were even a few rumbles of thunder across south-central/SE VA and NE NC during the morning of the 18th, as some elevated instability was in place due to strong warm air advection a few thousand feet above the surface. Ice accretion amounts of 0.10-0.20" were common from interior south-central VA to the Richmond metro by noon on the 18th. Precipitation was moderate to locally heavy in intensity across parts of the area during the morning of the 18th, and roads rapidly became icy where precipitation fell in the form of sleet (which was mainly over N and NW portions of the AKQ CWA). Sleet totals up to 1-1.5" were observed in spots! Fortunately, the ice on trees melted across parts of the area during the afternoon as the precipitation lightened in intensity and temperatures rose above freezing. This melting likely played a part in making the event less severe than it otherwise would have been.

A second wave of precipitation overspread central/east/northeast portions of the area during the early morning hours on the 19th. By this time, temperatures aloft had warmed enough that precipitation type was rain or freezing rain. Temperatures had cooled to 29-31°F from South Central VA to the Richmond Metro to the VA Northern Neck before the the light to moderate precip moved in. This second wave of precipitation exited by late morning to midday, but not before an additional 0.10-0.30" of ice accretion was observed across parts of the area. While several trees and power lines were downed, power outages were much less widespread than what was observed during the 2/12-13 ice storm. 

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