What winter we've had has not been harsh, and even that is taking a break for the next 7-10 days, as a springlike pattern unfolds over most of the eastern half of the nation.
That springlike pattern will include the threat of strong to severe thunderstorms, including some tornadoes, spreading from the Southern Plains and lower Mississippi River Valley today eastward across the South on Saturday. Most of that will stay south of us, but there may be some risk, even here, of gusty squalls with thunder by Saturday evening as a cold front approaches. Despite clouds and showers, highs will likely reach the 60s on Saturday.
This cold front will not be all that cold for us, as the true Arctic air stays in western North America. Sunday afternoon looks to break out in sunshine with highs well into the 60s, and temperatures will only barely tick down early in the coming week. Every day from Saturday to at least Wednesday may top 60 in the Roanoke area, and I still wouldn't rule out some lower 70s if the sun is out long enough one afternoon.
Getting sunshine for long will be a struggle as the fast jet stream brings a series of storm systems across, with chances of rain around Monday night-Tuesday, again by about Thursday, and next weekend. The last of this series will include a stronger cold front that may bring us back to some pretty cold weather around January 19-22 or so.
There are growing indications that some genuinely cold weather will occur during the latter third of this month and into February. It is banked deeply over Alaska and western Canada, and this week's warm surge may be part of a disturbed atmospheric pattern that eventually moves the core of the cold, or at least allows it to pour out farther south and east. It is unclear whether this comes down in bulk or in a series of shots, and of course at this distance, timing with wet storm systems is not easily discerned.
Even though it will be showery, winter haters should enjoy the warmer weather while we have it over the next several days, and winter fans should not lose hope, the warm surge appears to be the first step toward unleashing more cold air down the road.