Roanoke Times: Weather Journal

Weather Journal


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Friday 03/27/2015
Some snow possible overnight .... near-record cold expected Sat PM/Sun AM
Updated: March 27, 2015 - 9:46 pm

UPDATE 9:45 PM, 3/27: Some snow, rain and sleet showers are possible overnight as a weak upper-level wave moves through, combined with the typical upslope effects of northwest wind flow over the mountains. Saturday will be blustery with 30s to low 40s highs areawide -- and then near-record lows in the teens to low 20s by Sunday morning. Brrrr. 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

Friday 02/20/2015
Winter storm continues: More snow, sleet, ice into the evening
Updated: February 21, 2015 - 4:46 pm

UPDATE 4:35 PM, 2/21: Moisture has continually streamed through a region north and northwest of Roanoke during the afternoon, and will likely continue into the evening. Snowfall amounts of 8-12 inches are already common in this area and will grow yet more inches into the early evening. Father south, periods of snow are along the U.S. 460 corridor in the Roanoke and New River valleys, where 4 to 8 inches is common. Sleet and freezing rain have occurred at times along the I-81 corridor to the southwest, while there has been a pretty long dry period south along the Blue Ridge to the North Carolina line. Milder air has struggled mightily against the Arctic air today, but has made some advance and will continue to stream in during the evening. Many higher elevations west and southwest Roanoke are several degrees warmer than the city itself and other lower elevations, still in the 20s in the dense cold-air wedge. As the milder air oozes in, sleet and freezing rain will become more prevalent, and maybe even plain rain at any locations that warm above freezing. Fog may also develop where milder air moves over snow cover.  It's a long, drawn-out overrunning moisture winter storm. END UPDATE

After near- or below-zero start to Friday, eyes turn toward weekend winter storm
Updated: February 20, 2015 - 6:11 am

You will be waking up to a record cold February 20 in the Roanoke and New River valleys. Temperatures were already at record levels when it passed midnight into the new day. If it drops below zero at Roanoke, it would be the Star City's first official negative temperature reading in 19 years, and if it drops to -2, it would be the coldest February temperature on record, dating back to 1912. Blacksburg was already a degree below zero as the day began. The box at left contains information on the status of cold-weather records during this Arctic surge.

Wednesday 02/18/2015
Winter storm watch for Saturday snow & ice; record cold continues into Friday AM
Updated: February 19, 2015 - 4:31 pm

UPDATE 4:30 PM: The National Weather Service in Blacksburg has issued a winter storm watch for Saturday and Saturday night for potential significant accumulations of snow and ice.  (See the Snow/Ice rating in the Inclement Conditions Index below) The Weather Prediction Center has Southwest Virginia in slight to moderate risk zones for 4+ inches of snow and 1/4 inch or greater ice accretion.  I'll post a new blog entry late tonight or very early Friday looking more deeply at our second winter storm threat in six days.  ... Near and below zero temperatures are expected for Friday morning, setting new records -- possibly even a monthly record for Roanoke if it drops to -2.  See the box below at left for the state of several potential records at Roanoke and Blacksburg. END UPDATE

Bitter cold Arctic front bringing snow squalls/showers into the evening
Updated: February 18, 2015 - 6:25 pm

UPDATE 6:25 PM: Snow showers and squalls will continue into the evening, though there will be some decrease in intensity and areal coverage as the setting sun removes a source of instability. Still, with some atmospheric lift resulting from a upper-level impulse and the typical lifting of the moisture over the mountains by northwest winds, there may be a few brief periods of heavy snow in some locations -- especially west of Roanoke -- during the evening. Temperatures will plunge into the single digits for Thursday morning and won't recover much on Thursday afternoon, likely staying below 10 in much of the New River Valley and maybe making the mid teens in the Roanoke Valley. END UPDATE

Tuesday 02/17/2015
After snow, attention turns to potential sub-zero cold by late week
Updated: February 17, 2015 - 12:06 pm

UPDATE NOON, 2/17: Above is a map put out by the National Weather Service office in Blacksburg on Monday's snowfall. If your particular location got more or less snow than the color shade would indicate, just remember these maps are usually smoothed out for the preponderance of reports in a given area, so may not represent every specific point within. If you prefer snowfall reports in list form, here is a link to that.

Sunday 02/15/2015
Moderate to heavy snow continuing through the evening
Updated: February 16, 2015 - 9:03 pm

Storm Prediction Center issues mesoscale discussion for heavy snow with Roanoke/New River valleys near center of highlighted area

Winter storm WARNING issued; 6-inch-plus snowfall looks likely for Monday-Tuesday
Updated: February 15, 2015 - 4:03 pm

UPDATE 4 p.m.: A winter storm warning is now out for all of Southwest Virginia. The National Weather Service in Blacksburg is forecasting 7 to 11 inches throughout the Roanoke and New River valleys. Forecast guidance throughout the afternoon continues to show considerable convergence on 6+ snowfall amounts throughout the region. ... I will do a full new blog post late this evening. END UPDATE

Saturday 02/14/2015
Lots of windy wintry wildness before we can even think about Tuesday snow
Posted: February 14, 2015 - 12:50 am

There is a big elephant in the room named "Possible Tuesday Snowstorm" that could trample all over our discussion right now. But there is also a large polar bear roaming around a lot closer to us that is going to roar in our face Saturday night. So we'll deal with him first.

Friday 02/13/2015
Next week to 10 days may be about as wintry as it gets here
Updated: February 13, 2015 - 4:39 pm

UPDATE 4:30 PM, 2/13: One aspect of the next Arctic front that will be particularly noteworthy is high winds. The National Weather Service in Blacksburg has issued a high wind watch for the potential of 60 mph wind gusts for a big chunk of western Virginia Sunday evening and Saturday morning, including the Roanoke and New River valleys and counties along the Blue Ridge. These winds will be largely in response to a deepening low off the New England coast that will bring yet another blizzard to New England. There is also a wind chill watch for a similar area, for wind chill factor readings that could dip below minus-20 as most areas go below 10 and some go below zero on the thermometer, and the potential for up to an inch of snow mostly west of Roanoke with vigorous snow showers and squalls behind the cold front late Saturday. Again, Saturday during the day won't be a half-bad day, with sunshine and highs in the 40s, but the wall of frigid wind and sideways snowflakes will roll through during the late afternoon or early evening. END UPDATE

Thursday 02/12/2015
Arctic outbreak arrives today -- historic snowstorm arrived a year ago today
Posted: February 12, 2015 - 12:30 am

The first of two shots of Arctic air arrives Thursday with blustery winds and some snow showers. Temperatures will drop most of the day through the 30s and 20s.  A wind advisory has been posted along and west of the Blue Ridge -- including the Roanoke and New River valleys -- for potential winds gusts topping 50 mph, especially Thursday afternoon and evening. There may be enough snow showers -- caused by moisture lifted up and over the mountains on those stiff northwest winds -- for some streaks of white ground primarily west of Roanoke, with perhaps a couple inches on the ridgetops and west-facing slopes near the West Virginia state line and west of Interstate 77.  You may see some flakes blowing through the air in the Roanoke Valley at times. Widespread lows in the single digits and teens will occur Friday and Saturday mornings -- and some may dip to near or below zero west of Roanoke, with single digits to near 10 elsewhere, by Sunday and Monday morning. The Inclement Conditions Index is below -- after a bit of looking back to a year ago on this day.

Tuesday 02/10/2015
Major Arctic air blast may last several days
Updated: February 10, 2015 - 10:54 pm

UPDATE 10:50 PM, 2/10: Enjoy Wednesday's somewhat mild highs in the low to mid 50s -- it'll likely be the last time in at least a week, maybe two, that we'll see temperatures like that. The cold front arrives early Thursday with blustery cold and perhaps some mountain snow showers. ... My Wednesday Weather Journal column looks at both Boston's snow blitz and our ongoing snow dearth. END UPDATE

Monday 02/09/2015
A little more mild weather this week before late-week Arctic blast
Posted: February 09, 2015 - 12:15 am

Sunday's high temperature soared into record territory at Blacksburg, with the high of 63 topping the 61 recorded on Feb. 8 in 2009. Roanoke didn't set a record, which stands at 73 from 1925, but the high of 69 was 21 degrees above normal. We're likely done with record and near-record highs after Monday's cold front, but will still have some fairly mild weather at midweek before Arctic air comes roaring back in for the weekend.

Friday 02/06/2015
Nice weekend to get outside in Southwest Virginia
Posted: February 06, 2015 - 7:00 pm

If you didn't get a chance to see The Weather Channel's live broadcasts from Virginia Tech on Friday morning, linked here is one of the segments.  You'll see Weather Channel producer Kathryn Prociv (VT grad) guiding on-air meteorologists Jim Cantore and Greg Forbes as they walk through the 3-D presentation of the May 20, 2013, Moore, Oklahoma, tornado, with the video image one of them is seeing also visible. Whatever you may think of The Weather Channel -- heck, I've had my own moments of criticizing it --  certainly this was an amazing opportunity for Virginia Tech's young meteorology program (as well as  the Institute for Creativity, Arts and Technology, site of the "Cube") to gain some tremendous national exposure. (Also, here is a link to a Roanoke Times article by reporter Carmen Forman -- who happend to live very close to Moore when it was hit -- about Friday's visit by The Weather Channel at Virginia Tech)

Thursday 02/05/2015
The Weather Channel broadcasting live from Blacksburg on Friday morning
Posted: February 05, 2015 - 2:45 pm

If you see Jim Cantore somewhere in Blacksburg today or Friday, rest easy, all weather mayhem isn't about to break loose ... (and, sorry, Southwest Virginia snow lovers, it doesn't mean your 2014-15 snow drought is about to be interrupted by thundersnow). Cantore along with Weather Channel severe weather expert Greg Forbes are scheduled to appear in a series of short live segments on The Weather Channel between 7 and 10 a.m. on Friday focusing on a visual presentation of the May 20, 2013, Moore, Oklahoma, tornado in the "CUBE" at the Institute for Creativity, Arts & Technology at Virginia Tech.

Arctic cold shot slaps us with little or no snow, then milder with rain by early next week
Posted: February 05, 2015 - 12:15 am


Wednesday 02/04/2015
Sizing up the 2014-15 snow drought historically; no clear sign that it breaks soon
Posted: February 04, 2015 - 12:30 am

My Wednesday Weather Journal column (linked here) takes a historical look at the current snow drought in the Roanoke and New River valleys. The current 2014-15 snowfall of 0.7 inch isn't the least snow Roanoke has had through the end of January -- it's barely in the top 10 -- and it isn't even in the top 3 of the past 10 years. But it still meager compared to what is normal. Going strictly by history, here are the chances Roanoke ends up at particular total seasonal snowfall levels based on having an inch or less entering February:

Tuesday 02/03/2015
Thursday snow chance on the ropes, but not quite knocked out
Posted: February 03, 2015 - 12:46 am

Upslope snow squalls on Monday led to many 1-2-inch snow totals west of Interstate 77 and in the high country of both southern West Virginia and northwest North Carolina. Of course, Quinwood, W.Va., led the way in the NWS-Blacksburg territory at 4.5 inches. Also of note are the large snow totals from the Upper Midwest to Northeast from the latest winter storm, including 15+ amounts in the Boston area after last week's 2 feet plus.

Monday 02/02/2015
Windy with snow showers Monday; still some interest in Thursday for possible snow
Updated: February 02, 2015 - 10:10 am

Quite a winter storm is covering a good amount of real estate in states to our north, with amounts topping one foot in the Chicago area and 8+ inches having fallen or expected in a swath from Iowa to northern Pennsylvania and New York state into New England. (You can follow the latest snow totals here. )  A few days ago some forecast models projected this swath of snow as far south as North Carolina, and then the track lifted northward with time, so much so that Pittsburgh and New York City ended up in the mix zone south of the heaviest snow.

Saturday 01/31/2015
Mostly rain for SW Virginia on Sun-Mon; some wintry intrigue for next week
Posted: January 31, 2015 - 11:30 am

A day or two ago I mentioned that a low-pressure track along or south of Interstate 40, which runs through the middle of North Carolina from Asheville to Greensboro to Raleigh, is about where we start thinking about a west-to-east-moving storm system having a track favorable for significant snow in our area -- and  Georgia to South Carolina would be more optimum. The map above shows the Weather Prediction Center's projected track of the weekend low from Sunday morning through Monday evening, and as you can see, it is a long way north of Interstate 40. In fact, it's quite a bit north of Interstate 64, and darn near north of the state of Virginia. Each of the little colored shapes near the L's marking the low's forecast position are various model projections for the low's position -- and as you can see none of those purple diamonds are south of Charlottesville for the low's position on Monday morning. (By the way, the curly track off the Northeast coast toward Nova Scotia sort of looks like a continuation of this low, but it's actually a low that's off the New England shore now.) This kind of track will simply not produce significant snow in our region unless there were an extremely hard-banked cold-air damming setup, which there is not. This will be a widespread, large but not overwhelming snow event (many 6-12-inch amounts, locally more, but not widespread 12+) from the Upper Midwest and Ohio Valley into the Northeast. New York City might get as much snow from this as it got from the blizzard that mostly missed east, and Boston will likely get another near-double-digit snow on top of the piles remaining from the blizzard. 

Friday 01/30/2015
Low track likely too far north for widespread snow in SW Virginia on Sunday/Monday
Posted: January 30, 2015 - 9:30 am

This has not been a snow lovers' winter so far in Southwest Virginia, with a warm December after a promising start in November, then a January that has often been cold but without storm systems of sufficient strength and track to deliver anything more than light mixed events and snow showers (enough, at least, to whiten the ground in some areas west of Roanoke this morning). February is not going to start any better for snow lovers ... or any worse for snow haters.

Thursday 01/29/2015
Wintry mix creeps into Super Bowl Sunday outlook for SW Virginia
Posted: January 29, 2015 - 12:45 am

First ... for a little change of pace ... here is a link to a Google Hangout talk I participated in earlier this week with my fellow Virginia Tech storm chase trip leaders from late May/early June 2013. This trip involved the May 31, 2013, El Reno, Oklahoma, tornado which was the largest on record at 2.3 miles wide and claimed the life of famed storm chaser Tim Samaras, his colleague Carl Young and son Paul Samaras.  This is a pretty lengthy talk (nearly an hour and a half) but it gives some good insight into how we approach these storm chase trips.

Wednesday 01/28/2015
Blizzard buries New England; nothing resembling that on our horizon
Posted: January 28, 2015 - 12:30 am

Let's get one thing straight right off the bat: Tuesday's blizzard was NOT a bust. It was a record-setting event at some locations that largely lived up to forecasts in Massachusetts, Maine, Rhode Island, parts of Connecticut and New York's Long Island. Peruse these snow totals if you don't believe me. But, for New York City, especially Manhattan where all the cameras are, snowfall came in under official forecasts substantially, only in the 6-12-inch range instead of 2-3 feet. This was simply because the storm shifted east about 50 miles, a possibility picked up early on by the upgraded Global Forecast System (GFS) model and generally trended toward by other models like the North American Model (NAM) and the European. Extremely heavy snow bands hit the Hamptons but didn't quite make it into the metropolis. There are various analyses online about how and why there was only a paltry 10 inches at Central Park instead of the promised 20+, such as these by Capital Weather Gang, Gawker and Slate. All I will add is that it just underscores the approach I will continue to use on Weather Journal: To not only outline what is expected but the parameters of what might occur with only small changes in various factors related to a storm, and to give a general idea of what is more certain and what is less certain with a given weather setup.

Tuesday 01/27/2015
Blizzard for New England, but no big deals in SW Virginia through work week, at least
Posted: January 27, 2015 - 6:45 am

The blizzard is ongoing for New England on this Tuesday morning. The storm's track shifted east from some earlier forecasts, and that has resulted in a much less imposing winter storm for New York City -- you'll probably hear a little bit about that today in the media/social media. Regardless, it's still a very big deal farther east and north of the Big Apple.

Monday 01/26/2015
Some windy cold with flakes for us as big storm lashes Northeast
Posted: January 26, 2015 - 12:30 am

The Northeast corridor is preparing for a historic snowstorm that could dump 2 feet of snow in many locations, combined with coastal flooding and near-hurricane-force winds on the shore. Our weather with the Alberta clipper system that will transform into this mighty winter tempest looks comparatively calm, but there will be windy cold with perhaps some snowflakes in the air through early Tuesday. The twice-weekly Inclement Conditions Index is below. (This would be an easy 10 for snow and about an 8 or 9 for wind between New York and Boston.)

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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