Roanoke Times: Weather Journal

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Wednesday 09/02/2015
Updated: September 03, 2015 - 12:07 am
More early September stale stickiness

UPDATE 12:05 AM, 9/3: The pattern is stagnant, and so am I right now. With nothing really new to add, I just tacked on the Inclement Conditions Index below the existing blog item. It hit 92 again in Roanoke on Wednesday and might get close to that hot again on this Thursday. END UPDATE

Monday 08/31/2015
Posted: August 31, 2015 - 12:30 am
Busy Pacific, (mostly) quiet Atlantic; summerlike warmth this week in Southwest Virginia

The tropical season is going right by the El Nino playbook so far. The Pacific Ocean, as shown above, is hopping with activity -- in fact, Sunday was the first day on record when there were three Category 3 or stronger hurricanes in the Pacific east of the International Dateline, named Kilo, Ignacio and Jimena. Meanwhile, in the last couple of weeks in the Atlantic, there was Danny that briefly spiked as a Category 3 hurricane and then quickly diminished in the shearing winds aloft, and Erika that was a troublesome tropical storm for the island of Dominica before meeting its demise over Hispaniola's 10,000-foot mountain peaks, falling fall short of many model projections of a U.S.-threatening hurricane. Remants of both Danny and Erika are involved in an area of tropical moisture that will dump some heavy rain on the Carolinas -- but precious little will work northward to us, maybe enough for a few showers on Monday. Oh, and there is now Hurricane Fred, way out by Africa, threatening the Cape Verde Islands, and unlikely to ever make it to the U.S. or even the islands of the eastern Caribbean intact. (But Fred is making some history, including the first-ever hurricane warning for the Cape Verde Islands.)

Saturday 08/29/2015
Posted: August 29, 2015 - 10:00 am
Tropical Storm Erika dissipates; summerlike heat returning for SW Va in week ahead

Taking a hike through the 10,000-foot mountains of Hispaniola is almost never a winning proposition for a tropical system, especially one that is already struggling against El Nino-enhanced mid and upper-level wind shear. Tropical Storm Erika ignored any and all longstanding advice for tropical system prosperity (as well as many forecast model tracks) and went wandering over Hispaniola and eastern Cuba rather than staying over the open ocean. Literally as I was typing this blog update at mid-morning Saturday, the National Hurricane Center declared Erika dissipated.

Friday 08/28/2015
Updated: August 28, 2015 - 1:13 pm
Some more nice days ahead for SW Virginia, as Erika possibly moves toward Florida

UPDATE 1:10 PM, 8/28: Updated National Hurricane Center forecast track on Tropical Storm Erika above. The new forecast is farther west of previous ones, and keeps Erika a tropical storm into Florida. The system is continuing to encounter moderate shear, and this track would take it right over Hispaniola's 10,000-foot mountains, often a shredder for tropical systems. It also keeps the storm over open water for only a short time, though that water is quite warm.  It is looking likely for now that a major hurricane strike on the U.S. is unlikely, but still worth monitoring. END UPDATE

Wednesday 08/26/2015
Posted: August 26, 2015 - 12:30 am
Is Erika a threat to the East Coast?

This is really a two-part question. (1) Will Erika strengthen to a hurricane and maintain that strength long enough to reach the East Coast? (2) Will Erika be steered into the East Coast?

Monday 08/24/2015
Updated: August 25, 2015 - 11:51 am
A hint of fall this week

It's beginning to look a lot like autumn.

Friday 08/21/2015
Updated: August 22, 2015 - 8:41 pm
Cooler, drier air pushes in for weekend, as Hurricane Danny spins far, far away in Atlantic

UPDATE 8:40 PM, 8/22: A few scattered showers and storms are possible in Southwest Virginia on Sunday afternoon and again Monday as moisture builds slightly ahead of the next cold front, that will lead to mostly dry weather and seasonable to slightly cooler than normal temperatures during the week ahead. Any rain late Sunday and Monday will be very spotty, and most spots will (probably) get little to nothing.  Danny quickly peaked as a Category 3 hurricane with 115 mph winds on Friday, but is already back down to a tropical storm as it sucks on a region of dry air. We'll keep watching its northwestward path to see if any semblance of a tropical system can make it to the U.S. shore by late this week. END UPDATE

Thursday 08/20/2015
Posted: August 20, 2015 - 12:30 am
Another nice weekend ahead after scattered Thursday soakers

Weekends have generally turned out pretty good this summer.  The past five weekend have been mostly dry in Southwest Virginia -- a few typical scattered afternoon pop-up showers and storms on a couple of days in that stretch, like this past Sunday, but many of those weekends have been almost totally dry. This looks like another, as a cold front moving through Thursday will trigger another round of showers and storms, and then push out the thick mugginess of recent days. This won't be a tremendous cool or dry shot, but it will sweep out the thick moisture, instability and sources of lift that have brought fairly numerous showers and storms the last couple of days. Gradually, warmth and humidity will rebuild this weekend, and of course, a few pop-up storms can never be entirely ruled out in the mountains, particularly by Sunday afternoon. But they look to be much less numerous than the middle of this week has brought. Most spots won't see a drop Friday through Sunday.

Wednesday 08/19/2015
Posted: August 19, 2015 - 10:15 am
Danny, Godzilla, Bruce Lee and two more humid, showery days

The weather we had Tuesday -- sticky with scattered to numerous showers and storms, some with locally heavy downpours -- will be pretty much what we get today and Thursday as well. Some parts of Patrick County got over 2 inches of rain, necessitating a flash flood warning, on Tuesday evening, while amounts varied elsewhere from sprinkles (or maybe not even that for some) to more than an inch. A cold front is headed our way late Thursday that looks to clear things out pretty nicely for the weekend, though.

Tuesday 08/18/2015
Posted: August 18, 2015 - 12:30 am
Even more soupy and showery Tuesday/Wednesday

Southwest Virginia will be fully in the sauna through Thursday as rich Gulf of Mexico flow brings in thick humidity. This humidity will be squeezed out by a series of upper-level impulses, terrain effects and daytime heating -- though that heating will be muted somewhat from previous days by clouds and intermittent showers. The heaviest showers and storms are expected to be west of Roanoke and the Blue Ridge, with areas to the east more underneath the high pressure that has brought several days of fairly hot weather to the region. Heavy downpours in the strongest showers and storms may dump a quick 1-2 inches in localized areas, but most places will see something less than that. Severe storms are not likely with weak wind flow aloft, but a "wet microburst" of gusty winds in a heavier afternoon storm can't be ruled out, especially along and east of the Blue Ridge where there might be just a little more sunshine to produce storm updrafts that can collapse.

Monday 08/17/2015
Posted: August 17, 2015 - 12:30 am
Back at it ... and back to same old August weather

It's not often I lose track of the overall weather pattern for a few days, even on vacation, but I did during the past week away from the blog, as I was dealing with a family medical situation (which has turned out well) and didn't pay much attention to the weather (other than what I could see outside) for about 3-4 days. But my first impression returning to it is that the projections of a tilt toward cooler than normal period over the next 7-10 days that were evident, oh, about 7-10 days ago, have gone off the track. We had a couple of days with cooler mornings and lower humidity last week, but the heat and humidity have quickly rebuilt underneath a stagnant dome of high pressure. And this high pressure is likely to deflect fronts away from us for the next few days. Afternoon heat and humidity will trigger scattered afternoon storms that dump torrential rains on some  and sprinkles for others not far away.

Wednesday 08/12/2015
Posted: August 12, 2015 - 6:30 am
The dangers of a "below-normal" hurricane season

Today's Weather Journal column focuses on the El Nino-driven expectations of a below-normal hurricane season and how this may be part of why this could be an especially dangerous tropical season on the U.S. East and Gulf coasts. Click here for the weather columns page.

Saturday 08/08/2015
Posted: August 08, 2015 - 12:30 am
Tilt to cooler than normal through mid-month as I take a blog break

Friday was a relatively cool day with highs on the south side of 80 because of a wedge of cool air from the northeast banking against the mountains. Saturday may start that way, too, but a generally warm, mostly dry weekend is likely on tap. Down the road, though, a cold frontal passage on Tuesday and perhaps another about 5 days later are likely to bring cooler, drier air to our region, as the hot core of high pressure sets up in the central and western U.S. Each front may bring a chance of showers and storms as it passes through. That's the general pattern we're expecting for the next week to 10 days. Unless it clips 90 on Sunday (mid-upper 80s more likely) or between the fronts, it may not hit 90 at Roanoke throughout that period.

Friday 08/07/2015
Posted: August 07, 2015 - 12:30 am
Spotty rainfall tops an inch for some, doesn't settle dust for others

The radar image at top shows where the heaviest rainfall occurred on Thursday evening, and that was mostly south of Roanoke, with the green areas denoting at least 1 inch as estimated by radar and dark blue showing at least 1/2 inch. There are even a few flecks of darker green (2 inches) and a couple of small points of yellow (2.5 inches). Roanoke's official total through midnight Thursday was only .14 inch (CORRECTED), and many places to the north didn't even get that much.  Unless it's deep moisture overrunning a cool-air wedge or an inland tropical system, it's just not common for a widespread general rain shield to develop this time of year, but rather even a fairly potent upper-level system like this one tends to spit out rain in bands and splotches.

Thursday 08/06/2015
Updated: August 06, 2015 - 12:39 pm
Thursday PM likely brings rain, but weekend looking mostly dry

UPDATE 12:35 PM, 8/6: Looks like most of what rain occurs will fall this evening, though some showers and storms may develop this afternoon. The main system remains to our west, with additional bands of rain and storms likely to develop in afternoon heating along the stalled frontal boundary. Still looks like a showery scenario yields 1/2 to 1 inch amounts for many, with locally more and less depending on where heavier showers/storms occur. END UPDATE

Wednesday 08/05/2015
Posted: August 05, 2015 - 12:30 am
Perhaps some fairly widespread rain on Thursday

Although no part of Virginia was in official drought as of the last U.S. Drought Monitor, I'm hearing more and more reports at individual locations of dry grass or the need for rain for a garden. A Tuesday brush fire on Tinker Mountain northwest of Roanoke may be emblematic of the growing dryness situation. I'm not about to declare it the complete solution to these growing dry issues, but the atmospheric setup for Thursday does suggest a fairly widespread dose of showers and thunderstorms that could give most, if not all, of our region a pretty healthy serving of wetness. A cold front sagging southward on Wednesday -- you won't notice much in the way of anything "cold" in our region with highs back up in the mid 80s to low 90s  -- will grind to a stop or nearly so, as fronts often do this time of year, near the Virginia-North Carolina state line, give or take 100 miles. An area of low pressure is expected to move east-northeastward, generally along this stalled frontal boundary, on Thursday. This will sweep in abundant Gulf of Mexico moisture, with showers and storms developing ahead of the low and along the front. There may be some potential for locally heavy rain, though amounts of 1/2 to 1 inch should be more the norm -- and yes, some locations will probably get less. It's likely almost everybody gets some rain, but as is just about always the case with rain this time of year, it probably won't be a general shield of rain with fairly even amounts, but rather splotchy, widely varied amounts, depending on where heavier rain bands or storms set up.

Monday 08/03/2015
Posted: August 03, 2015 - 12:30 am
Typical early August weather this week: Hot with stickiness and scattered storms returning

Pretty typical early August weather on tap this week, as it gets a little hotter and more humid than the weekend with scattered showers and storms returning.

Sunday 08/02/2015
Posted: August 02, 2015 - 12:15 am
A dry 90 would still be hotter than almost all of last August

The sunny, dry and pretty hot weather we've had the last couple of days will continue Sunday and Monday. Dew points in the 50s on Saturday at times created outdoor conditions in which the heat index was lower than the air temperature. Roanoke's high temperature has hit 89 each of the last two days, and probably will push a degree or two warmer into the low 90s one or both of the next two days. While it will be a relatively "dry" heat with dew points in the 50s again Sunday and only as high as the low 60s by Monday, it would be quite a contrast to last August, when Roanoke's first 90-degree high temperature of the month didn't occur until the last day, August 31.  August 2014 was Roanoke's coolest August on record for average high temperature, barely averaging 80 for a high the entire month, and the third coolest on record for overall average temperature (highs and lows), dating back to the start of official weather records in 1912.

Friday 07/31/2015
Posted: July 31, 2015 - 10:45 am
Dry weekend ahead ... and how a "cold" front caused Roanoke's hottest temperature of year

The cold front has passed and an overall nice, though a bit toasty, weekend is ahead. Dew points have dropped 10-15 degrees this morning into the upper 50 and low 60s, and light westerly to northwesterly winds will continue to filter in dry air through the weekend. Highs will continue to be in the 80s and low 90s with ample sunshine and few clouds, but it will not be as miserably humid as it was earlier in the week. The lower humidity, stable to sinking air aloft under high pressure and drying downslope wind trajectories will not be conducive to the pop-up storms we see on many summer afternoons. Well, OK ...  any time it warms into at least the 80s in our terrain you can't say there is zero percent chance of an isolated shower or storm cropping up, if an updraft with decent moisture hits some kind of weakness in the warm, dry cap aloft. But the chances for even pop-up afternoon showers and storms are about as low this weekend as they can possibly be in our region when it is as warm as it is going to be -- 5 percent or so. Enjoy it for your outdoor activities!

Thursday 07/30/2015
Posted: July 30, 2015 - 12:30 am
A "dry front" will bring a change in the air for weekend

A cold front passing Thursday evening will be more of a "dry front" than a cold one, bringing much drier air into the region to turn the dial back on the muggy weather of recent days and shut down the daily rounds of scattered showers and storms. But before it pushes through, we have one more day of fairly hot, very humid and potentially stormy weather to get through on Thursday.

Wednesday 07/29/2015
Posted: July 29, 2015 - 12:30 am
Perhaps an escape from the "muggies" by the weekend

We'll continue to have a case of the "muggies" -- 80s to maybe low 90s highs with upper 60s-low 70s dew points, leading to scattered afternoon storms, some locally heavy -- through Thursday. But after that, there is significant hope that the weekend will give us a break from the muggies.

Monday 07/27/2015
Updated: July 28, 2015 - 9:30 am
Typical hot, humid summer weather through Thursday -- a few localized downpours

UPDATE 9:25 AM, 7/28: I only upgrade the Inclement Conditions Index when a number jumps 2 spots or more. I have just done that for heavy rain below -- increasing from 2 to 4 -- as the slow-moving nature of storms will lead to some localized areas of very heavy rain the next few days, as they did on Monday in part of Roanoke and then overnight in parts of Bedford County. Widespread heavy rain is not anticipated, but it may be torrential for a few minutes in isolated downpours. END UPDATE

Saturday 07/25/2015
Posted: July 25, 2015 - 1:00 am
Typical summerlike weather rebuilds; where is rest of summer going?

Heat and humidity will gradually build over the weekend and into the next week to a fairly typical late July pattern of mid 80s to low 90s highs (generally below 3,000 feet in elevation) with scattered afternoon showers and thunderstorms. We'll probably see a few more of those Sunday and Monday than on Saturday, when a weak cold front sliding in from the north and northeast may even come into play.

Thursday 07/23/2015
Posted: July 23, 2015 - 12:15 am
Warm (not hot) & fairly placid period through weekend

It looks like we're into a spell of fairly normal temperatures (if not a hint below) with only minor chances of showers or storms through the weekend. All of the Inclement Conditions Index numbers are 3 or below on a scale of 0 to 10, which generally means not much to worry about.

Wednesday 07/22/2015
Posted: July 22, 2015 - 12:30 am
Somewhat cooler, much drier air just in time for FloydFest

FloydFest has a history of some memorable and troublesome downpours. But this year, the five-day musical festival on a mountaintop near the Patrick-Floyd county line has a pretty good chance of getting through without any really heavy downpours. Cooler, drier air has filtered in to Southwest Virginia behind a cold front, and this will mean a cooler, drier Wednesday. Highs likely get no higher than the mid 80s in the Roanoke Valley, which means more like upper 70s-near 80 in the New River Valley and only the mid 70s up on FloydFest's ridgetop. Dew points will back off all the way into the 50s, which will feel super comfy in typically humid late July.

Monday 07/20/2015
Posted: July 20, 2015 - 12:30 am
Heat & storms for Monday/Tuesday, then a midweek break

More heat, more scattered thunderstorms Monday and Tuesday ... then a bit of a break from both at midweek.

Thursday 07/16/2015
Posted: July 16, 2015 - 12:30 am
Summer heat, humidity rebuild ... some storms possible by the weekend

Typical summertime weather is taking hold as we move into the weekend, with hot days, humidity and increasing showers and storms, mostly during the afternoon. Thursday will be one more day a touch cooler and drier before seeing more heat and humidity for the weekend.

Wednesday 07/15/2015
Posted: July 15, 2015 - 12:05 am
Enough of squall lines ... drier weather ahead

We've had four different rounds of storms in Southwest Virginia since Sunday night. A low-pressure trough and cold front finally move through on this Wednesday, and beyond maybe a few morning showers, drier and a touch cooler air moves in through Friday. Expect near-normal highs in the 80s and lows in the 60s with little or no chance of rain.

Tuesday 07/14/2015
Updated: July 14, 2015 - 5:43 pm
Repeat squall line likely this evening ... but then, no further encores

UPDATE 5:30 PM, 7/14: There will probably be a severe thunderstorm watch issued for Southwest Virginia by 7 p.m. -- be sure and check back at this link for the latest watches and warnings from the National Weather Service at Blacksburg. The regional radar above from a little earlier shows three different squall lines over the central and eastern U.S. The bow-echo squall line entering West Virginia is due in the New River/Roanoke valleys around 8-9 p.m. ... a bit earlier to the northwest, and later to the southeast. Similar to last night, pockets of severe-level wind gusts (58+ mph) can be expected within a larger outflow pattern of moderately gusty winds (35+ mph). With wet soils and fully leafed-out trees of summer, tree damage will be somewhat greater than in similar winter winds, and there will likely be more power outages. This looks to be the last storm cluster of this current series. END UPDATE

Monday 07/13/2015
Updated: July 14, 2015 - 6:01 am
Latest round of storms raining itself out; more storms possible late Tuesday

UPDATE 6 AM, 7/14: The remnant rain shield of the latest storm cluster is generally along and west of the Blue Ridge as the sun rises on this Tuesday morning, but it is gradually weakening and shrinking, though some heavier storms are pushing southward into northwest North Carolina. After this dissipates and/or moves south and east, we'll see some sunshine and have a rather hot day, mid 80s to low 90s for highs across much of the region. The next storm cluster is expected to form to our west and northwest during the afternoon and affect our region late this afternoon into the early evening. Severe storms will again be possible, though once again, the most likely region of severe weather will be to our west. A low-pressure trough and then a cold front will finally kick through to bring slightly cooler temperatures, drier air and an end to the cycle of storm clusters on Wednesday. END UPDATE

Updated: July 13, 2015 - 9:51 am
Rumbly Monday AM, but worst severe storm risk likely stays west of SW Virginia

UPDATE 9:30 AM, 7/13: Sunshine has come out and the overnight storms have largely dissipated in Southwest Virginia -- the radar estimates map at left shows where 1-3 inches was common in two northwest-to-southeast streaks where storms tended to train. (Keep in mind these are radar ESTIMATES, so it's possible your rain gauge got more or less than what is specifically depicted for your pixel on the map.) … About today's severe potential, the Storm Prediction Center has actually focused the core of the high-end storm potential more to the west, particularly Illinois. Outflow from this morning's storm complex near Chicago will interact with extremely unstable air (4,000+ CAPE possible -- 500-1,000 is often sufficient for severe storms) and uncommon mid-July deep-layer shear values (60 knots plus possible -- 35 knots is often sufficient for rotating storms) to trigger supercells and/or bowing line segments that could produce damaging winds exceeding 70 mph, large hail of golfball to baseball size, and perhaps 6-10 or so tornadoes, a few of which may be strong (EF-2 or stronger). This is expected to be focused WEST of the current storm complex, which will continue to move south and east and likely weaken some later this morning as it enters less unstable air. It is possible that by this evening or overnight, Southwest Virginia may get some portion of the existing storm complex, or perhaps a new storm complex formed from the outflow of the old one, but it is NOT expected to maintain consistent severe strength through the entirety of day like the June 29, 2012, derecho did -- but gusty winds are a possibility with any storms this afternoon, evening or overnight. Today's newly forming supercells/bowing line segments are expected to fuse into another storm complex or squall line that will likely track south-southeast to the west of our region, perhaps clipping the far southwest tip of Virginia. … In addition to the action to our west, it is possible that daytime heating, evaporation from overnight rain, terrain effects and leftover outflow boundaries from overnight storms will trigger a few storms in our region later today, any of which have potential to become strong to locally severe. END UPDATE

Sunday 07/12/2015
Updated: July 12, 2015 - 9:18 am
Will early week severe storm outbreak reach SW Virginia?

Sunday will be pretty similar to Saturday afternoon in Southwest Virginia -- sunshine, highs in the 80s, not terribly humid, but enough that you can't entirely rule out an isolated shower or storm popping up in the afternoon warmth. (A morning storm cluster may clip far Southwest Virginia.) There were a couple of stray showers on Saturday afternoon. By Sunday evening or very early Monday, a disturbance moving in from the northwest may raise the chance of showers and storms.

Friday 07/10/2015
Updated: July 11, 2015 - 11:00 am
Another slow dance with a stalled front -- but perhaps a Saturday break in showers

UPDATE 10:55 AM, 7/11: Somewhat drier air moving in behind the overnight system of showers and storms may mean a pretty dry day for much of Southwest Virginia, though we can't entirely rule out some scattered showers or storms with afternoon heating. A slow-moving frontal boundary will also be pushed south, leading to drier, perhaps slightly cooler northerly wind trajectories this afternoon. END UPDATE

Thursday 07/09/2015
Posted: July 09, 2015 - 12:30 am
Thursday may reach 90; continued hot, humid, occasionally showery/stormy into weekend

Pretty much the same general weather pattern continues: Warm to hot temperatures, but not extremely hot, with some chance of showers and storms each day and occasional periods of a bit more numerous storms through this Inclement Conditions Index period (Thursday through Monday) and likely beyond.

Wednesday 07/08/2015
Posted: July 08, 2015 - 1:02 am
Heat, humidity to linger; extreme heat doubtful

There's just not a ton of difference in the weather coming over the next several days. We will see warm to hot weather, highs in the 80s to some low 90s, and periods of showers and storms. Daytime heating, persistent humidity and terrain effects are enough to trigger some chance of storms each day through the weekend and beyond, but there will also be fronts, disturbances and outflow boundaries from storms to the northwest that will occasionally fire up a few more storms. Wednesday may be just such a day with a few more storms around than Tuesday as a system to the northwest draws closer.

Monday 07/06/2015
Updated: July 07, 2015 - 9:24 am
90 possible today in Roanoke as it gets a little hotter this week with some storms

UPDATED 9:15 AM, 7/7: Low 90s are possible on this Tuesday in the Roanoke Valley and points to the south and east. As is discussed below, high pressure is re-asserting control over the Southeast, which will lead to a resurgence of heat in the states south of us. We'll be on the edge of that, which means it will be getting a little hotter than it has been overall, but fronts from the northwest will play more of a role, bringing chance of showers and storms and edging off the heat a bit at times. The next front begins affecting us Wednesday. Any showers or storms that develop on this Tuesday will be of the isolated, pop-up variety, driven by heat and terrain effects -- normal summer stuff. END UPDATE

Sunday 07/05/2015
Posted: July 05, 2015 - 8:46 am
Showers, storms return with pesky pattern

The evening of July 4 was a great time to catch a break between rounds of showers and storms, but it wasn't the end of rain with this stubborn pattern. An upper-level low over Tennessee will slowly drift northeastward over the next couple of days, and that will spin thick moisture back into Southwest Virginia. Interacting with a slow-moving front wagging back and forth, plus some daytime heating and typical terrain effects, this will bring rounds of showers and storms to the region during the day and night on this Sunday. The chances of getting longer lasting and heavier rain will be better to the west of Roanoke, where a flash flood watch has been issued along and west of the I-77 corridor.

Saturday 07/04/2015
Updated: July 04, 2015 - 6:18 pm
Not hot as a firecracker on the Fourth -- evening looking good for fireworks

UPDATE 6:20 PM, 7/4/2015: Looks pretty good for the Roanoke and New River valleys this evening, as some drier air is working in from the west after a round of scattered showers. A few more showers will linger to the south, but even those should diminish with the setting sun. Enjoy your Fourth of July fireworks shows! END UPDATE

Thursday 07/02/2015
Posted: July 02, 2015 - 12:30 am
Look back at hot, humid June ... look ahead to warm, showery Fourth of July Weekend

A warm (but not quite hot), sticky and occasionally (not constantly) showery/stormy run to and through the Fourth of July weekend is ahead. The Inclement Conditions Index for the next 5 days is below.

Wednesday 07/01/2015
Updated: July 01, 2015 - 4:52 pm
Perhaps a dry break today, but more showers/storms to come rest of week

UPDATE 4:50 PM, 7/2: The murky skies you see today over Southwest Virginia are caused by two sources of particles intersecting over us: Canadian wildfire smoke and dust from the Sahara Desert of Africa. High pressure aloft over the Atlantic has helped guide rounds of Saharan dust westward over the past several days, while the northwest flow that has developed in recent days has brought in the Canadian smoke. END UPDATE

Monday 06/29/2015
Updated: June 30, 2015 - 6:41 am
3rd anniversary of derecho ... nothing close to that on tap, but increasing storms by midweek

UPDATE 11:15 PM, 6/29: Warmth, humidity and scattered daily storm chances will increase as we move toward midweek ... but again, nothing all that close to what we were experiencing this time 3 years ago is expected. There is a slight risk of severe storms in much of Virginia today.  Keep an eye on the National Weather Service at Blacksburg website for any watches or warnings through the day. END UPDATE

Saturday 06/27/2015
Posted: June 27, 2015 - 9:00 pm
Autumn-like breezy front bringing cooler, drier weather

The first sign that something is unusual in our weather is the wind advisory that has been posted generally along and west of the Blue Ridge for much of Sunday.  We get a lot of these in Southwest Virginia in fall, winter and spring, mostly when strong cold fronts roll over the mountains with much colder weather.  That's generally what is happening this time, too, but breezy cold fronts like this are pretty atypical for late June. Some wind gusts may top 40 mph, especially in higher elevations, and with so many leaves on the trees and wet ground in many areas, there may be a few trees blown down.  The hot, muggy, showery/stormy weather that has been with us for many days now is being pushed out in favor of a refreshingly dry and significantly cooler air mass. Highs in the 70s to low 80s will be on tap Sunday, with lows falling back into the 50s with maybe even some upper 40s in a few spots west of Roanoke come Monday morning. Perhaps even more importantly, dew points that reached as high as the mid 70s today will fall back about 25 degrees into the low 50s on Sunday. Even if sunshine does help it nudge above 80 in Roanoke on Sunday -- actually higher than the 79 it reached on Sunday with clouds and showers --  air that dry will feel much, much cooler than the muggy stuff we've had for a while.

Updated: June 27, 2015 - 9:39 am
Flash flood watch extended until 6 p.m.; additional storms possible

UPDATE 9:35 AM, 6/27: The flash flood watch has been extended through 6 p.m. with a couple of counties added, including Bedford, for the potential of locally heavy rain with additional storms later today as a low-pressure system and cold front push into thick moisture. This is a FLASH flood watch, which emphasizes relatively short bursts of heavy rain that can flood streams and roads quickly, as opposed to a general flood watch, which emphasizes a long period of widespread rain that can cause large rivers to flood -- so that means amounts of rain will likely vary quite a bit across the area with some spots getting much more than others. There is also a slight risk of severe storms later today, pending whatever daytime heating can occur. Lift and shear are quite strong for late June with the surface low that will track to our northwest. This may significantly raise the risk of supercell thunderstorms with a few tornadoes closer to the D.C. area, but line segments or storm clusters are more likely near us, with locally damaging winds possible, especially if there is any appreciable daytime heating. END UPDATE

Friday 06/26/2015
Posted: June 26, 2015 - 9:20 am
Recovery from AM rain will determine SW Va severe risk for PM

One batch of rain and storms has passed through Southwest Virginia this morning. How much the atmosphere can recover from the morning "overturning" -- cooler air aloft brought down to stabilize the atmosphere -- will determine how much of a severe storm risk we have later today, either from new storms developing or pre-existing storms moving in from the west. Sunshine is likely to return at some level by midday, and if so, temperatures will easily climb into the 80s with thick humidity, augmented by evaporation of morning rain. A series of disturbances moving along a nearly stalled front draped near our region should be sufficient, combined with the heat and humidity, to trigger additional storms this afternoon and evening, capable of locally heavy rain, some damaging winds and perhaps some large hail (1 inch in diameter or greater). Atmospheric shear (winds changing direction and/or speed with height) was sufficient on Thursday for some atypically impressive supercell thunderstorms in Southside and Central Virginia. Shear will be near the borderline for supercells (rotating thunderstorms) today as well, but multicell clusters are likely to be the more prevalent mode of thunderstorms.

Thursday 06/25/2015
Updated: June 26, 2015 - 7:25 am
Transition from heat to cooldown likely stormy

UPDATE 7:20 AM, 6/26: Waking up to the first of what could be several waves of storms and rain in Southwest Virginia. Morning arrival, at coolest part of day, dampens severe threat with first round. Will post new later this morning looking ahead to afternoon-evening threat of storms and heavy rain.END UPDATE

Wednesday 06/24/2015
Posted: June 24, 2015 - 7:11 am
Hot and mostly dry today ... change to cooler pattern on tap by weekend

A fairly weak cold front is pushing through our region this morning. That will usher in some drier air aloft which may quell thunderstorm activity today. Temperatures will only very slightly be affected -- a mostly sunny day will still send highs in the upper 80s and low 90s at most locations -- but the dry air aloft may put a lid on convection. You can't entirely rule out a few isolated showers or storms, however, when it is that hot with surface dew points in the 60s.

Tuesday 06/23/2015
Updated: June 23, 2015 - 9:24 pm
Not quite as hot as forecast ... evening storm risk dwindles for SW Virginia

UPDATE 9:20 PM: The severe thunderstorm watch has been lifted for the Roanoke/New River localities and northward that were affected. For the most part, storms moving southeast from West Virginia have dwindled crossing into Virginia, likely dried up by downslope westerly surface winds. A few small cells have popped up in late day heat and humidity farther east, including a couple that passed over parts of the Roanoke Valley. The bulk of severe weather this evening has occurred in stronger instability and shear from the D.C. area northward. ... So in short, a hot day, but not as hot as it could have been, with a few evening showers and storms, but not as severe as it could have been. Heat, humidity and chances of storms linger through the rest of the week, until cooler weather arrives for the weekend, likely staying several days. END UPDATE

Monday 06/22/2015
Posted: June 22, 2015 - 12:30 am
More heat, more humidity, more storms

Pretty much, more of what we've seen. Perhaps a bit hotter and a little less stormy Monday and Tuesday with growing high pressure ... then a little more stormy and less hot on Wednesday and Thursday with a stalling front ... but subtle day-to-day changes can shake this up, as we've already seen at times. Just be prepared for heat, humidity and occasional storms through Thursday. Maybe some pull-back from the heat, at least, beyond this period of the Inclement Conditions Index.

Sunday 06/21/2015
Updated: June 21, 2015 - 6:30 pm
Happy Father's Day! Summerlike heat (and storms) return

UPDATE 6:25 PM, 6/21: I took a few hours off from weather and the Internet for Father's Day, but a quick glance at radar around 5 p.m. revealed severe storms moving through the Roanoke and New River valleys, so I found an elevated viewing point in southern Roanoke County to get the photo above. There were several reports of hail -- mostly small, but some near 1 inch in diameter -- and gusty winds as these storms blew through. With heat and humidity plus variable atmospheric triggers day to day, storms can quickly develop any afternoon this coming week, with locally strong to severe storms possible. END UPDATE

Saturday 06/20/2015
Updated: June 20, 2015 - 8:58 pm
Severe thunderstorm, flash flood watches cancelled as risks shift east, north

UPDATE 9 PM: The flash flood watch has now also been lifted for the counties along and west of I-81 in Southwest Virginia. Most of the remaining rain with Bill's remnants is going north of our region, while the severe storms have occurred to our east. The closest wind damage I'm aware of is in Pittsylvania County. Bill has been long-lasting storm that has been a problem for many people from Texas to Maryland, but it's a bit of a bust here. END UPDATE

Kevin Myatt
  • Kevin Myatt
  • Kevin Myatt is The Roanoke Times' principal weather geek. He writes the Weather Journal column each Wednesday in The Roanoke Times and advises the newsroom on weather topics while also working on the copy desk. He helps lead Virginia Tech students on storm chases each May, has edited a book on hurricanes ("Hurricanes and the Middle Atlantic States," by Rick Schwartz) and comments on weather occasionally on WVTF (FM-89.1).
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