Drought is still rated moderate to severe across much of Southwest Virginia on the latest U.S. Drought Monitor map, but three significant rainfall episodes in the next week -- on top of one Wednesday that was not registered in the data for the drought map -- may at least have the drought reeling on the ropes, if not knocked out entirely.
The first rainfall event comes courtesy of Tropical Storm Nestor, currently in the northern Gulf of Mexico as of this Saturday morning writing with landfall on the coast of the Florida panhandle imminent. (UPDATE 4:10 PM: Nestor was downgraded to a post-tropical cyclone shortly after landfall.) This isn't the most powerful (50 mph winds) or organized tropical system (more a comma shape like a regular low than typical pinwheel of hurricane) you'll ever see , but it is still a big slug of moisture that will circulate atop the cooler air in place over our region, leading to widespread rainfall by Saturday night and early Sunday.
There is a pretty wide range in projected rainfall on the forecast models, but it appears increasingly likely that rainfall amounts of at least a half-inch will occur over much of the region, with some potential for a widespread 1-2-inch rainfall. While some heavy periods of rain are possible, it appears the more torrential flash-flooding type downpours (yes, flash flooding can occur even in a drought, if it rains fast enough) will stay southeast of our region. Most of the rain will come in a light to moderate fashion, ideal for soaking still dry ground.
The tropical system will zip out quickly late Sunday, possibly in time for some late-day sunshine, and Monday looks mostly dry too, during the day. But rain will return Monday night into Tuesday as a cold front approaches from the west, with Gulf moisture pulled northward ahead of it by a powerful low near the Great Lakes. A similar cold front arrives Friday, with possibly even a deeper slug of moisture. Rainfall amounts with both of these systems remain uncertain, but another inch of even 2 on top of whatever Nestor brings us looks like a pretty good bet this week.
Temperatures will be rather moderate this week, mostly 60s for highs, with lows in the 45-55 range early in the week with more moisture and clouds, and falling into the 35-45 range behind the midweek cold front. The late week cold front may bring somewhat colder air than that for the weekend. The trend seems to be toward cooler than normal temperature late in the month and starting November, with intermittent periods of still-needed rain.