Autumn was delayed, not denied.
While hot, dry weather has dominated the headlines in September and early October, the weather pattern has now undoubtedly flipped, the long-lingering summer heat dome has been crushed and our weather will turn both cooler and wetter in the days ahead.
We will see this in full evidence over the next couple of days, as a cold front pushes across our region.
The lift of the front plus some Gulf of Mexico moisture streaming across our region ahead of the front will cause rain to develop Wednesday. Most amounts will likely be less than an inch, so not a drought-buster, but with the potential for a half inch or more in many locations, not a worthless wetting either.
Unfortunately for those seeking a more substantial rain, what will become a powerful coastal low along the front will develop a hair too late.
Thursday will bring windy chill unlike any we’ve seen yet this fall season, as highs fail to make 60, and lows by Friday morning drop to the 30s over much of our region, maybe even some upper 20s in a few rural valleys. Many locations, especially west of Roanoke, will see an end to the growing season with frost or, even locally, an outright freeze.
Snowflakes are possible late Wednesday and early Thursday at elevations above 3,000 feet along the western fringe of Virginia and, more so, westward, into the higher elevations of West Virginia. Yep, it’s that time of year.
But true to what is typical for the fall season, temperatures will gradually warm over the weekend, ahead of yet another cold front early next week that, will again, drop the temperatures to fairly chilly levels.
There seems to be some potential for this system to tap the Gulf of Mexico a little more robustly than we’ve seen yet this fall. It remains to be seen if that in fact develops, but if so, it could be the kind of soaking rain we need to quell the ongoing drought.
It would be better if we got a series of several light to moderate rains rather than one or two heavy rains to break the drought. The progressive pattern ahead, with periodic cold front and low-pressure trough passages, seems conducive to that possibility.
Beyond our region, some interesting things have been happening that all exemplify a more dynamic weather pattern than the stagnant heat that broke less than two weeks ago.
The northern Plains were clocked late last week into the weekend by a historic October snowstorm, with some piles in feet and blizzard conditions in North Dakota. Sure, that region frequently gets snowstorms of that caliber, but even there it’s not typical for early to mid October.
Off the East Coast, a low-pressure system deepened, acquired some tropical characteristics with a warm core, then was named Subtropical Storm Melissa and, eventually, outright Tropical Storm Melissa.
The main effects of this storm were offshore, some windy rain into New England, but the backside rotation of the storm and the tidal pull of a full moon backed water up into the Potomac Basin, flooding some parts of the D.C. and Baltimore area this past weekend, even though there was no rainfall.
And out in the western Pacific, Typhoon Hagabis blew across Japan, and ultimately its remnants will become absorbed in the North American weather pattern, triggering a domino effect that may lead to a significant cold shot next week.
The weather scene has indeed made a seasonal shift. Soon we’ll have to contemplate the next season, winter, a little more deeply.
Weather Journal appears on Wednesdays.