Roanoke Michael sky

Late-day turns the western fringe of departing Tropical Storm Michael orange late Thursday as seen from downtown Roanoke.

After a summer than ran overtime and turned into a tropically soggy September and early October, it's time to take a week off from the weather blog, now that it looks relatively calm and cool (hope that doesn't jinx it.). 

But, before I do, some notes about tropical rain, snow, and upcoming weather events you may wish to attend.

* Roanoke has reached 50 inches of rain more quickly in a year than ever before, since 1912. With 50.06 inches after Michael's rain, 2018 is the rainiest year to date through early October. If it never rained another drop through December 31. this year would finish as 15th wettest among 106. A top 10 finish seems likely, needing only an inch and a half more rain the rest of the year, and the record 58.87 inches from 1948 is very much still in range if the latter months of this year end up pretty wet. (And it should be noted that, as with Michael this week, the Roanoke airport official gauge has usually been north of the core of heaviest rain in several events this year.)

* Just when you thought we were done with tropical cyclone remnants, Monday and Tuesday pose the likelihood of showers as remnants of Tropical Storm Sergio from the Pacific are pushed ahead of a cold front. … Don't worry, this won't be nearly the same as getting a fresh pull of dense moisture from an Atlantic or Gulf of Mexico system. The cold front will reinforce our cool, dry fall weather for mid-late week. Some outlying areas may even seen frost by late week. Click on the National Weather Service-Blacksburg website through the week for updates on the early week rain and possible frost later in the week. 

* There was SNOW in the higher elevations of West Virginia early Saturday, as seen on this webcam from Snowshoe. I certainly would not rule out this happening again next week as other cold fronts pass through.

* Click here for National Weather Service-Blacksburg maps comparing rainfall from Florence and Michael in our region. (You can click on the individual maps for a closer look). The maps actually reveal a fairly similar distribution of rainfall between the storms -- more from Florence in some spots, more from Michael in others. But keep in mind that more of Michael's rain came quickly, in a few hours, while Florence's (in our region, certainly not the case in much of North Carolina) came more gradually -- which is why the flash-flood problems developed.

* I have fielded some questions about Thursday's flood event compared to Roanoke's landmark disaster, the Flood of 1985. Other than perhaps flash flooding in some locations in the southern Roanoke Valley being similarly disruptive – and I would not rule out that it could have been worse for some particular very localized area -- there really is no comparison in the two events on a regional scale. The 1985 flood involved more rain over a wider area on top of even more recently saturated ground. Whereas some amounts exceeded 6 inches on Thursday, a much wider area had 6+ inches of rain in 1985, after having almost as much over the previous 5 days. The Roanoke River downtown (10-foot flood stage) was 7 feet higher in 1985 (23.35 feet) than its crest on Thursday night (16.41 feet). There were many swift-water rescues needed on Thursday, but no helicopter rescues from rooftops, as were required in many cases in 1985. Most importantly, there were no reported fatalities, locally, in Thursday’s flooding; 10 died in 1985. Thursday’s flooding was certainly memorable but it just wasn’t in the same league as 1985 in the Roanoke area. In terms of stream and river flooding, Thursday wasn't quite what Hurricane Jeanne's remnants brought (on top of Frances and Ivan rainfall) in September 2004. 

* The National Weather Service in Blacksburg is hosting its annual open house this coming Saturday, October 20, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. It is a chance to see where and how forecasts are made, and to interact with some of the people making them. The weather service office is located in Virginia Tech's Corporate Research Center, across from the airport -- taking Southgate Drive off U.S. 460, then then first right out of the first roundabout onto Research Center Drive, will get you there. 

* You may have seen the Richmond Times-Dispatch article, also reprinted in The Roanoke Times, about Roanoke-resident Chris White leading Mid-Atlantic ChaserCon, a storm chaser conference in Richmond, on Saturday, October 27. Chris and I have covered thousands of miles together helping lead the Hokie Storm Chase. Unfortunately, my own schedule will not allow me to be with him at the chasers' conference, but there is still time if you want to be there, for a $25 ticket, at the Science Museum of Virginia. Go to the Mid-Atlantic ChaserCon website linked here and register.

* The Weather Journal snowfall prediction contest is coming soon. Details in a couple of weeks when I get back on the blog.

Contact Kevin Myatt at Follow him on Twitter @kevinmyattwx.


Since 2003, Kevin Myatt has penned the weekly Weather Journal column, and since 2006, the Weather Journal blog, which becomes particularly busy with snow. Kevin has edited a book on hurricanes and has helped lead Virginia Tech students on storm chases.