Roanoke Times: Weather Journal

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Thursday 05/07/2015
Between tornadoes & a possible tropical system, it was a little rumbly here, too
Posted: May 07, 2015 - 12:30 am

Thunderstorms made some impact on Southwest Virginia on Wednesday evening, including a storm that rolled through the Roanoke Valley with about 3,000 power outages related to lightning and wind, as well as reports of pea-sized hail and quick but intense downpours. I took the photo above as it was getting organized north and northwest of Roanoke, before it intensified and enlarged and moved over the Roanoke Valley a bit later.

Tuesday 05/05/2015
Keep an eye on likely subtropical/tropical system if you have coastal plans
Updated: May 06, 2015 - 9:44 am

UPDATE 9:35 AM, 5/6: The National Hurricane Center gives the system off the Southeast U.S. coast -- currently disorganized -- a 60 percent chance of developing into tropical or subtropical cyclone as it drifts north. Further discussion about the potential subtropical/tropical storm threat for the coast of the Carolinas is in today's Weather Journal column, linked here. For Southwest Virginia, a weak "backdoor" cold front will push through from the north over the next 24 hours, possibly enhancing the chance of afternoon/evening thunderstorms. There is not much cooler air behind the front, and it will barely affect the above-normal daytime highs on Thursday, before the front washes out entirely. END UPDATE

Monday 05/04/2015
Summer-ish weather takes hold in early May -- perhaps even a tropical-ish system to watch
Posted: May 04, 2015 - 12:30 am

When I left for vacation a week ago, the coming week's pattern looked a little more like winter than spring. Now, upon my return, this new week looks more like summer, with stagnant high pressure, above-normal temperatures for early May, the possibility of scattered afternoon and evening thunderstorms, and maybe even an Atlantic storm system with some tropical characteristics to watch.

Sunday 04/26/2015
More cool weather ahead as blog takes hiatus through May 4
Posted: April 26, 2015 - 12:15 am

Got to go on vacation sometime. I usually don't take vacation time in winter when interest is high for snow potential, so they get scheduled in other seasons. I'll be off the blog through Monday, May 4, with no new blog posts or updates. I will return on that date with a new Inclement Conditions Index.

Friday 04/24/2015
Cool-air wedge returns for chilly, damp weekend
Posted: April 24, 2015 - 9:38 am

Our frequent visitor the cool-air wedge is making another return this weekend, with plenty of Gulf of Mexico being lifted up and over it by a strong low-pressure system in the central U.S. After a sunny, mild but still a bit breezy Friday, this will result in a cool, damp weekend, with periods of rain especially the latter half of Saturday into Sunday. Temperatures probably will not reach 60 in Southwest Virginia east of Interstate 77 and may not reach 50 in some spots throughout the weekend -- mid 60s to low 70s are the normal highs this time of year in our region. One impact of the cool-air wedge -- that is, cooler air trapped by easterly winds against the Appalachians -- is illustrated in the map above from the National Weather Service. The trapped cool, stable though very moist air will just about entirely eliminate any severe storm risk we might otherwise have. Over the mountains, in the Tennessee Valley and much of the South, there will be a much higher risk of severe storms, where it is warm and unstable. Most of the rain will be light to moderate, but could be quite persistent Saturday afternoon and evening, with some periods of showers continuing into Sunday as the system only slowly pulls away.

Thursday 04/23/2015
Downright cold by Friday AM, followed by damp, chilly weekend
Updated: April 23, 2015 - 8:51 am

It doesn't look like we'll pull out even a single sunny, dry day out of this coming weekend, as a cooler-than-normal pattern continues to set up that is likely to last at least a week, maybe 10 days to two weeks. And there may be some temperatures cold enough to threaten some outdoor vegetation on Friday morning. (UPDATE 8:45 AM: A freeze warning has been issued Friday morning along and west of the Blue Ridge for pockets of sub-freezing temperatures. END UPDATE)

Wednesday 04/22/2015
Showers, storms possible on Wednesday as cooler pattern continues setting in
Updated: April 22, 2015 - 6:46 am

Warmth is ridging in western North America over the next several days, and that means that cooler air will be digging into the eastern U.S. We've seen this pattern repeatedly over the last couple of years, and it's happening again. The cold front passing through later on this Wednesday will continue our trek toward a significantly cooler pattern, triggering some showers and perhaps a few thunderstorms as it pushes into somewhat warm but not terribly moist air today. It will be cold and a bit windy aloft, though, and that might allow for a few storms capable of localized strong wind gusts. (It may also be a little gusty even without storms at times -- a wind advisory has been issued for possible 40+ mph gusts.) This most likely will not be any kind of widespread severe weather outbreak, and there isn't nearly enough moisture to pull off anything close to the widespread heavy rain of Sunday or the localized intense downpours of Monday.

Tuesday 04/21/2015
Storms, heavy rain are past; cooler, drier Tuesday on tap
Posted: April 21, 2015 - 12:15 am

Storms produced streaks of heavy rain, gusty winds and hail in Southwest Virginia on Monday afternoon and evening, dumping some downpours on some areas that were already inundated by Sunday night's rain. I took advantage of the severe setup to do some regional storm chasing, focusing on a supercell near Yanceyville, North Carolina, (south of Danville) that split into two pieces. The right-splitting cell, as is often the case, developed stronger rotation for a time, and briefly a tornado warning, though no tornado appears to have occurred. I saw broad rotation within a lowered cloud mass called a wall cloud. For me, it's good practice preparing for the annual Virginia Tech storm chase I help lead, this time in June.

Monday 04/20/2015
Strong to severe storms possible on Monday
Posted: April 20, 2015 - 7:30 am

INCLEMENT CONDITIONS INDEX

Saturday 04/18/2015
Flood watch continues tonight; storms possible Monday
Updated: April 19, 2015 - 5:08 pm

UPDATE 5PM: Above is the map for the flood watch that continues into the night for much of western Virginia. Periods of rain, some heavy, will continue much of the evening, lessening toward morning. Storms may develop in the area on Monday. END UPDATE

Friday 04/17/2015
Cool dampness takes a break for marvelous Saturday ... only to return Sunday
Posted: April 17, 2015 - 9:10 am

The two-day cool, damp wedge is finally letting go on this Friday morning, and a partly cloudy, warm day with many highs in the 70s is expected. As a barely perceptible upper-level trough crosses the region, there will be some chance of showers and thunderstorms developing with the effects of daytime heating. You can never entirely rule out an isolated storm becoming strong to locally severe in this situation, but it is not likely to be a widespread severe weather situation, or even a widespread rainy situation, this afternoon and early evening.

Thursday 04/16/2015
Maybe not a marathon of rain all the way through the weekend
Posted: April 16, 2015 - 12:25 am

Lots of rain in the days ahead for Southwest Virginia ... but substantial hope for Blue Ridge Marathon runners Saturday that you won't get soaked.

Wednesday 04/15/2015
Snowfall contest winner announced; more cool, showery weather through Thursday
Posted: April 15, 2015 - 12:23 am

We have a winner in the 2014-15 Weather Journal snowfall prediction contest: Erinn Hokanson of Roanoke. The difficult part of predicting this snow season was that Blacksburg and Roanoke had first 1-inch snowfall dates nearly 3 months apart -- Nov. 26 and Feb. 16, respectively. Most entrants didn't split their dates nearly that far apart. Hokanson split hers just far enough (Nov. 30 and Jan. 25, respectively) and got close on her snow totals (guessing 20 inches for Roanoke and 24 for Blacksburg when 22 and 28 fell) for a total of 32 points (days and inches missed) in the lowest-score-wins contest. That was 13 points better than second place. You can read about how the contest went down for several top entrants in today's Weather Journal column linked here.

Tuesday 04/14/2015
Rain Tuesday may be heavy for some; cool, showery into Wednesday and Thursday
Posted: April 14, 2015 - 12:30 am

I was just talking yesterday about how the weather can change during the course of the four days of each Inclement Conditions Index period, and that has indeed happened for the heavy rain aspect -- which is now more like a 5 or 6 for the Roanoke/New River valleys rather than a 4. It now appears that heavier rain will make it farther north, centered over Kentucky, West Virginia and Southwest Virginia generally west of Roanoke. For that reason, a flood watch has been issued for Giles, Pulaski and Carroll counties and westward. This still doesn't look like a widespread flooding situation, but 1-2-inch rains now look to be for much of our region Tuesday into early Wednesday, perhaps more in spots, especially where easterly to northeasterly winds can lift and condense more moisture on eastern mountain slopes. Tuesday night into Wednesday morning, Gulf of Mexico moisture will be overrunning a developing "wedge" of cooler air banked against the mountains, and this will mean frequent to continuous rain with some locally heavy rain. By late Wednesday into Thursday there may be a break in the rain, at least reducing to showers, as a slow-moving cold front moves more to the south, focusing the rain farther south.

Monday 04/13/2015
Showery days ahead for SW Va; a look at how to use the Inclement Conditions Index
Posted: April 13, 2015 - 12:30 am

Before launching into the newest Inclement Conditions Index, a few words on the intent of the index, which I have been posting twice weekly since November.

Friday 04/10/2015
Storm threat is past; nice weekend on tap; take the high winds survey
Posted: April 10, 2015 - 7:28 pm

Any threat of storms is past for Southwest Virginia, as a cold front is pushing through that will bring a dry, mostly sunny weekend with mild afternoons (60s to low 70s) and cool mornings (40s on Saturday morning, 30s to low 40s on Sunday morning).

Storm line pushes across Southwest Virginia today; nice weekend follows
Posted: April 10, 2015 - 9:04 am

Several days of severe storms have wreaked considerable havoc on the central U.S., including a large, powerful and much-photographed and video-recorded tornado in north-central Illinois on Thursday evening. At least one was killed in that storm, which hit a few towns and crossed a lot of prairie farmland west and southwest of Chicago.

Thursday 04/09/2015
More storms possible Thurs PM/Friday -- but another nice weekend on the way
Posted: April 09, 2015 - 12:45 am

Wednesday was the first 80-degree day in Roanoke and provided the first strong to severe storms in Southwest Virginia of 2015. Winds gusted between 40 and 50 mph at Blacksburg and Roanoke, with scattered reports of small hail (and one report of 1-inch hail at Peaks of Otter in Bedford County) and many locations got brief heavy rain and frequent lightning. Not everyone in our area did, though -- the nature of spring and summer storms. Kevin Struble of Lynchburg captured the striated shelf cloud on the Bedford County severe storm above ... and this video of the same storm seems to show some rotation.

Wednesday 04/08/2015
Storms have cleared the Roanoke & New River valleys
Updated: April 08, 2015 - 8:09 pm

UPDATE 8 PM, 4/8: Storms have cleared the Roanoke and New River valleys. There were some reports of 40-50 mph wind gusts and small hail -- larger hail up to an inch in diameter up at Peaks of Otter Recreation Area. Per the usual, some locations got very little rain or thunder while others got a few minutes of torrential rain and frequent cloud-to-ground lightning with booming thunder. But however it played out, it's over for now. Overnight additional clusters of showers and perhaps even a few rumbles of thunder are possible, but a cooler, more stable air mass will slowly be overtaking the region from the northeast. There may be another chance of severe storms on Friday as a cold front pushes into warm, humid air. END UPDATE

Monday 04/06/2015
Input sought for high winds survey; spring warmth, showers, storms ahead this week
Updated: April 07, 2015 - 10:18 am

UPDATE 10:15 AM, 4/7: Rain is doing its part to help turn the tide against brush fires in our area.  Cloudiness and intermittent showers today will likely keep the instability in check and not allow for many strong storms to develop this afternoon. It may get warmer with more sunshine, but still be just as humid, on Wednesday, so the storm threat may go up some. ... Do remember to take the wind survey linked below. END UPDATE

Saturday 04/04/2015
Pretty nice Easter weekend ahead -- very different than April 4 in 1974 and 2013
Posted: April 04, 2015 - 12:45 am

As I type this very early on this Saturday morning, a band of moderate to heavy rain is moving across the New River Valley into the Roanoke Valley -- after the showers and storms split around the valleys much of the early evening. But once this goes by, and the cold front pushing it does too, a breezy (wind advisories), mild and dry Saturday will be on tap with highs getting back close to 60. Be sure to dress warmly if attending sunrise Easter services on Sunday, as it may be a tad frosty in the 30s in the morning. Sunday afternoon, though, will vault back into the 60s with sunshine. As Easter weekends go, this one is pretty good, weather-wise.

Thursday 04/02/2015
Showers/storms likely this evening -- but Easter looks dry
Updated: April 03, 2015 - 6:25 pm

UPDATE 6:20 PM, 4/3: Much of Southwest Virginia has been circled in the latest Storm Prediction Center mesoscale discussion for isolated severe thunderstorms -- mainly a few strong wind gusts -- this evening. But the threat is not expected to be great enough to warrant a severe thunderstorm watch. Instability is limited over Southwest Virginia by clouds and showers limiting daytime heating -- and surface dew points in the low 50s indicate significantly less dense low-level moisture than we normally have in severe weather situations. Still, don't be surprised to see a flash, hear a rumble or even notice a quick tree-bending gust this evening. The front pushes in behind the showers and storms early Saturday to bring about quite a nice Easter weekend. END UPDATE

Wednesday 04/01/2015
Winds get lighter, temps get warmer -- and snow contest ends hard to grade
Posted: April 01, 2015 - 12:30 am

Winds will be dying down from the breeziness of the last couple days, hopefully allowing progress against a few wildfires. The next couple of days will be mild to warm, but dry, as highs push into the 60s on Wednesday with many 70s by Thursday. This surge of warmth will set us for showers and thunderstorms by Friday -- but Easter is looking dry and mild behind the next not-all-that-cold front that arrives Saturday.

Monday 03/30/2015
Milder air on the way this week
Posted: March 30, 2015 - 12:15 am

Prediction: We won't see lows as cold as Sunday (teens to low 20s) or highs as cold as Saturday (30s) again until at least November. Another frosty cold shot is probably inevitable in April or even early May, but I think we're done with anything that nippy this season.

Friday 03/27/2015
Near-record cold Sunday morning
Updated: March 29, 2015 - 9:44 am

UPDATE 9:40 AM, 3/29: Blacksburg tied its record low of 17. Roanoke's low of 23 came up a few degrees warm. A steady warmup begins today with highs climbing into the 50s for many, with 60s and some 70s expected most of the rest of the week ahead. END UPDATE

Thursday 03/26/2015
Storms possible Thurs PM, snow chance Friday? Hey, it's late March
Updated: March 26, 2015 - 5:05 pm

UPDATE 5PM, 3/26: A line of heavy showers and some thunderstorms is moving east out of West Virginia toward Southwest Virginia. This will move across the area through mid-evening with a brief period of heavy rain, perhaps some thunder and lightning, and possibly a few strong wind gusts. Most gusts will probably be under the severe level of 58 mph, but a localized brief gust above that is not entirely out of the question. You can follow radar on The Roanoke Times weather page linked here,  or on the National Weather Service-Blacksburg web page linked here. END UPDATE

Tuesday 03/24/2015
Spring starts to crackle ... but blustery for weekend
Posted: March 24, 2015 - 12:30 pm

At some point Tuesday afternoon or evening, it is quite likely that the first tornado or severe thunderstorm watch of March 2015 will be issued somewhere in the general vicinity of the Arkansas/Missouri Ozarks in the central U.S. This is a noteworthy development because in the modern era of severe storm forecasting dating to the 1970s, it has never been 24 days deep in the month before the first such watch has been issued in the United States (there have been 4 previous watches in the U.S. since the start of the year, but none since March 1). There have also been no tornado reports yet in March anywhere in the U.S., when about 60 are normal by this point in the month (there have only been 28 since the start of the year when 150 or so are normal). It is far from certain whether there will be a tornado today or Wednesday in the central U.S. or perhaps Thursday in the Southeast (or even the Mid-Atlantic), as the overall parameters do not look highly favorable for tornadoes. But there will probably be at least one or two somewhere in that time.

Monday 03/23/2015
Overall, nothing unusual for late March through Thursday
Posted: March 23, 2015 - 12:15 am

High pressure pushing cooler air against the mountains on Monday may make it feel a bit nippy -- and there may even be some brief drizzle, even freezing drizzle in higher elevations. But overall, the next 4 days through Thursday offer nothing extraordinary in terms of late March weather, with fairly normal temperatures and some rain chances. There may even be an outside shot at thunderstorms by Thursday. Perhaps some colder weather after this period, but it still doesn't look likely to be an extremely cold period for our region, relative to normal. The early week Inclement Conditions Index is below:

Friday 03/20/2015
Rebounding from Thursday's wintry mix to a mild, dry weekend
Posted: March 20, 2015 - 12:15 am

With just a little bit deeper cold air, Thursday could have easily been a decent snow event in our neck of the woods. As it was, some of you in higher elevations and to the west and north of Roanoke will awaken to some white on Friday morning -- mostly under an inch -- but it won't last too long as temperatures, gradually at first and then a little more quickly, rise through the 30s into the 40s and low 50s. There may be a little more rain in the morning.

Thursday 03/19/2015
Some snow/sleet this afternoon before it changes to cold rain
Updated: March 19, 2015 - 3:19 pm

UPDATE 3:20 PM, 3/19: About 1,600 feet elevation appears to be the dividing line between rain and snow, at least over the Roanoke Valley. At 2:30 p.m. it was snowing on top of Mill Mountain but raining in the valley. It is possible the snow level will get lower this afternoon, so perhaps some flakes are possible in lower parts of the Roanoke Valley. Snow has been falling for hours in many parts of the New River Valley and the Blue Ridge south of Roanoke but with very little if any accumulation. Snow and some sleet may linger into the early evening before milder air aloft gradually changes it all to rain, possibly excluding higher elevations north of Roanoke. END UPDATE

Wednesday 03/18/2015
Snow possible on Thursday, but doesn't look like much
Posted: March 18, 2015 - 12:30 am

Now that a cold front has pushed through, the reality that it is still March and not yet May will return to Southwest Virginia. And that reality may even include some snow on Thursday.

Monday 03/16/2015
Second day of 70s likely Tues; dry until Thurs -- maybe a hint of snow?
Updated: March 16, 2015 - 10:16 pm

UPDATE 10:15 PM, 3/16: Roanoke hit 77 and Blacksburg reached 73 on Monday for the warmest days since October. Tuesday's high will likely top 70 again in Roanoke and points south and east, maybe not quite that warm to the west, but colder air begins to move in behind a cold front for the rest of the week. Rain is expected by Thursday, and it might be cold enough for some spotty sleet and/or snow to start -- doesn't look like a big deal in our area, though, just a reminder that cold weather isn't quite over yet.

Sunday 03/15/2015
Mild days follow cold front early this week, but a colder period may be ahead
Posted: March 15, 2015 - 12:15 am

How times have changed: A cold front goes through with gusty northwest winds, and highs are expected to reach the 60s in Roanoke and 50s to the west behind it. Nothing shows the regime change in the weather pattern more than that. A wind advisory has been issued along and west of the Blue Ridge for some 50 mph gusts, mainly on ridgetops (worth a couple more points rise from 2 to 4 on my Inclement Conditions Index from Thursday). But these northwest winds aren't tapping the Arctic, they're tapping milder air of Pacific and continental origin. It's a typical spring cold front that brings breeziness, a mild day with sunshine, and then a chilly night (many 30s lows by Monday morning) as cooler, drier air moves in. But the temperature rebounds nicely on Monday with sunshine -- perhaps Roanoke's first 70-degree day since Nov. 24 -- and almost as mild on Tuesday before another cold front sweeps across.

Thursday 03/12/2015
Showery into Saturday, but mild this weekend
Updated: March 14, 2015 - 12:31 am

UPDATE 12:30 AM, 3/14: Short update tonight, hope to post new Saturday evening. Showery weather will continue on Saturday, though there continues to be indications of a lull during the morning. Milder air will stream in with most spots making the 60s on Saturday afternoon, especially if there is peekaboo sun. A cold front only takes us back to 50s highs and 30s lows for Sunday -- much different than the cold fronts we were getting a couple of weeks ago. Some more mild days are ahead this week before colder weather toward late week. END UPDATE

Wednesday 03/11/2015
Mild rain on Wednesday; cold rain on Friday
Posted: March 11, 2015 - 12:00 am

After a brush of light rain on Tuesday, mostly during the morning, Southwest Virginia is likely to get a second wave of rain on Wednesday. This will be a direct flow of moisture from the Gulf of Mexico and temperatures will respond accordingly, pushing into the 60s. A rumble of thunder wouldn't be totally out of the question, especially in Southside.

Monday 03/09/2015
It will be mild most of this week ... but also rainy
Updated: March 09, 2015 - 8:52 pm

UPDATE 8:45 PM, 3/9: A flood watch has been issued for some counties along the West Virginia border, and on into West Virginia, for Tuesday and Wednesday as periods of rain, some heavy, are expected to fall atop melting snowpack. Farther east in the Roanoke and New River valleys, most of the snowpack has melted away, and rain is expected to be light and intermittent Tuesday into Tuesday evening. I'm upgrading my Severe Storms rating below to 2 as there may be some chance of a few showers with thunder with warmer temperatures (60s to near 70) and a cold front on Wednesday, though no severe weather is currently expected. END UPDATE

Saturday 03/07/2015
Time for a weekend break as we enter a slowly warming period
Posted: March 07, 2015 - 12:15 am

Time for a weekend break from blogging. This has been pretty much a constant run for 3 weeks through a really impressive stretch of winter mayhem. I posted the snowfall total maps for our four winter storms during that stretch at left, just to give you something to look at (you can click on them to make them bigger).

Friday 03/06/2015
So, was that it for snow this season?
Posted: March 06, 2015 - 12:15 am

Our region's fourth winter storm in 18 days on Thursday hit quickly, but generally dumped 1-4 inches of snow and sleet in the Roanoke and New River valleys, with more to the north and less to the south.  Behind it, we will be waking up to temperatures Friday that may challenge record lows, which, for March 6, are 16 from 1960 for Roanoke and 7 from 1970 for Blacksburg. After sub-freezing highs or very nearly so on Friday, the weather turns milder, really throughout the foreseeable future.

Wednesday 03/04/2015
Snow/sleet episode winding down a little early in Roanoke/New River valleys
Updated: March 05, 2015 - 3:47 pm

UPDATE 3:45: The heaviest band of precipitation is now east of Roanoke, with a mix of snow and sleet continuing in the Piedmont counties. Some light precipitation has re-developed to the west, and there a couple of bands in West Virginia and Ohio to watch this evening, but the bulk of the heaviest snow and sleet has moved east of the Roanoke Valley and Blue Ridge.  Any additional accumulation will likely be minimal, a half-inch or less. END UPDATE

Tuesday 03/03/2015
Milder for a day, then winter returns with snow/sleet mix on Thursday
Updated: March 04, 2015 - 3:02 pm

UPDATE 3PM: The National Weather Service in Blackburg has expanded the winter storm warning a little southward into Alleghany and Botetourt counties for an expectation of 3-6 inches of snow. Winter weather advisories have also been expanded into Southside. There is a good amount of forecast guidance pointing at more snow across the region on Thursday, though there is still some risk of it being heavily sleet-mixed and therefore less accumulation (but still just as treacherous, if not more so). I'm thinking a 3-5-inch snow may be reasonable even down to the U.S. 460 corridor (Blacksburg-Roanoke-Bedford-Lynchburg) based on some of the latest data. I'll have a fresh blog post late this evening. END UPDATE

Heavy rain, 60 degrees possible Wednesday ... snow chances grow for Thursday
Updated: March 03, 2015 - 2:30 pm

UPDATE 2:30 PM, 3/3: The winter weather advisories have been lifted today as little precipitation occurred and temperatures are now above freezing in most locations. There have been some changes in midday model runs that may portend a greater snow threat on Thursday -- after our warmup and rain on Wednesday. I've posted the 12Z run of the North American Model (NAM) above -- the Global Forecast System (GFS) and European models show something similar. For Thursday afternoon, it depicts a secondary wave of low-pressure over the Carolinas, which keeps moisture pumped into Arctic air, with below freezing temperatures a mile up advancing as far as the dark blue line. This secondary low is a key -- without it, the moisture might run away before much of the cold air arrives. If something like this is realized, a significant snowfall of several inches could occur Thursday -- mixed with sleet and freezing rain early. (A winter storm watch has been issued for Bath, Rockbridge, Amherst counties and northward -- this might expand southward if current trends continue.) Something to keep an eye on as a complex, dynamic weather situation unfolds. It should be noted there are flood watches out for counties west of I-77 on Wednesday as the quick shot of milder air and possible heavy rain on top of melting snowpack may send some creeks and rivers over their banks. Temperatures will warm through the evening and might reach 60 in some areas on Wednesday before doing an about-face and plunging early Thursday. END UPDATE

Monday 03/02/2015
Winter weather advisory issued; Buckle up, SW Virginia,a wild ride this week
Updated: March 02, 2015 - 4:43 pm

UPDATE 4:40 PM, 3/2: A winter weather advisory is up for Tuesday morning. It's a similar setup to Sunday morning with some light moisture overrunning wedged-in cold air. Most of Southwest Virginia dry-slotted on Sunday morning -- no guarantee that will happen again, but we are talking light amounts of sleet and freezing rain. Sunshine and well-above freezing temperatures today may help keep it from total ice coverage on streets if there is freezing rain, but there would definitely be icy patches in shaded areas and on many secondary roads. As noted below, temperatures will slowly warm up into Tuesday evening and then get quite mild on Wednesday with heavier rain. END UPDATE

Sunday 03/01/2015
Roanoke/New River valleys catch a break, miss wintry mix as historic February turns to March
Updated: March 01, 2015 - 3:39 pm

UPDATE 3:40 PM, 3/1: Winter weather advisories have been lifted for Southwest Virginia. There were icy problems in North Carolina nd Southside Virginia earlier, and continuing in parts of northern and eastern Virginia into the D.C. area, but most of Southwest Virginia caught a big dry slot this time. END UPDATE

Saturday 02/28/2015
Winter weather advisory issued as icy mix creeps into Sunday picture
Updated: February 28, 2015 - 3:37 pm

UPDATE 3:35 PM, 2/28: A winter weather advisory has been issued for all of the localities covered by the National Weather Service at Blacksburg for a light wintry mix on Sunday. Brief snow is possible in some areas at the outset, but most precipitation will be sleet and freezing rain. Amounts will be light but troublesome with the cold ground we have. END UPDATE

Friday 02/27/2015
Yet another shot of Arctic air ... but no obvious widespread snow threat on horizon
Posted: February 27, 2015 - 12:15 am

It's a day late because of the coverage of Thursday morning's snow, but here is the Inclement Conditions Index through Monday.

Wednesday 02/25/2015
Snow has ended in Southwest Virginia; cold days into weekend
Updated: February 26, 2015 - 8:20 am

UPDATE 8:15 AM, 2/26: Other than a few spits the snow has ended in Southwest Virginia. Accumulations generally near 3-4-inches along U.S. 460 corridor from Blacksburg (officially 3.1) through Roanoke (officially 3.2) to Bedford, with a bit more in several locations farther south and east, and somewhat less in spots to the north. A weak clipper system along with an Arctic front renewing very cold air may bring in light snow to the region tonight, but amounts will be minor. Anything that manages to melt today with slightly above freezing temperatures will refreeze tonight and may remain that way until temperatures finally get above freezing again on Sunday. Saturday morning lows likely dip into the single digits to low teens. Yes, we are going to carry this snowpack -- now 11 days old at Roanoke and 13 days at Blacksburg, the longest stretches with snow on the ground since the epic 2009-10 winter -- into March, but there may be some decently mild days (50s highs) early to mid next week. ...  I will issue new Inclement Conditions Index this evening. END UPDATE

Snow developing northward rapidly; 3-5 inches for Roanoke/New River valleys, more to south and east
Updated: February 25, 2015 - 4:44 pm

UPDATE 4:40 PM, 2/25: Our next winter storm is on its way, the edges of it already showing up in Tennessee and North Carolina on National Weather Service-Blacksburg radar, and there are multiple signals in forecast models that it will take a bit sharper turn to the northeast than projected earlier. In response to this, the weather service has expanded the winter storm warning to include Bedford County and the Lynchburg area, with the winter weather advisory continuing in most of the Roanoke and New River valleys.  At this point it's sort of hair-splitting across the advisory-warning boundary, as the weather service has 2-4 inches forecast in the advisory and 3-5 in the western parts of the warning. I think there is good and growing evidence that Roanoke will be closer to the 4-5-inch end of things by Thursday morning, with 3-4 at most locations west of I-81 and north of Roanoke to I-64 to the north and I-77 to the west, where there will be nearer 2-3 inches. South and east of Roanoke, 4-8 inches is looking more likely with locally up to 10 in Southside. It would not take much more of a turn to the northwest for this storm to more seriously pummel much of our region with widespread 6+ snow -- again, sort of the reverse of Saturday, with areas south and east of Roanoke in the snow bullseye rather than to the north and west. Snow start time is fluid but based on radar trends I'm thinking will be a bit earlier than was being thought earlier, perhaps by 8-9 p.m. into the Roanoke and New River valleys. END UPDATE

Monday 02/23/2015
Winter storm warning issued south of Roanoke; heavy snow risk may yet edge northward
Updated: February 25, 2015 - 6:58 am

UPDATE 7 AM, 2/25: All of the localities previously in the winter storm watch have been upgraded to a warning south of Roanoke with a winter weather advisory added for most of the rest of the Roanoke and New River valleys tonight and Thursday. Full new blog post coming in the next hour. END UPDATE

Cold returns; possible snow for Thursday
Updated: February 23, 2015 - 9:27 am

Beware of “black ice” on this Monday – or even plain old-fashioned white snowpacked-ice, depending on how plowed/melted off the specific road your driving on is. Also, don’t be surprised to see snowflakes in the air, maybe even a dusting at some spots west of Roanoke, though I don’t think this is going to be akin to the whiteout snow squalls we’ve had with the last three Arctic cold fronts.

Saturday 02/21/2015
Ice and snow is past, some melting will commence
Updated: February 22, 2015 - 8:04 am

UPDATE 8 AM, 2/22: The ice/snow threat has ended for the region with fewer than 2,000 customers without power in Appalachian Power's Virginia service area despite a night of freezing rain.  This storm has left a significant impact, though, with a snow slide (some are calling it an avalanche) having buried U.S. 220 between Iron Gate and Clifton Forge near the Botetourt-Alleghany county line and reports of roof collapses and flooding problems in the far southwest tip of the state.  Though temperatures will go well above freezing today -- maybe even mid 40s to near 50 if the sun can stay out a while -- unplowed roads in hard-hit areas will improve only slowly, as there is a lot of snow and ice and melting will just turn it into a big slushy mess. Even with 40s highs, most of the area isn't going to see the entire snowpack melt off today, and what doesn't melt will refreeze hard with subfreezing weather returning Monday and perhaps single-digit lows by Tuesday. 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 talks about weather each Friday afternoon at 4:30 p.m. on WVTF (FM-89.1).
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