After looking like it might be a bust on Monday, the early week rain turned out pretty decent for the Roanoke and areas along the Blue Ridge westward across the New River Valley, with many 1/2 to 1 inch amounts, tapering off to the east. It definitely wasn't a drought-buster but did moisten the dry surface for a couple days. If we could get a couple of rains like that every week for a while … but we won't, at least this week.
Other than maybe a few showers with a passing cold front on Saturday, there really isn't any chance of rain until, maybe, the middle of next week. These will be great days to be outside, with mild to warm highs, and decently cool mornings.
Having so much hot weather in September and early October may have warped our sense of what is "normal" this time of year. Normal highs, based on 1981-2010 averages in the Roanoke and New River valleys, are in the mid 60s to near 70, with lows in the 40s. Most days ahead will be substantially warmer than that -- 70s highs, a few spots might even reach 80 on Friday, with mostly upper 40s-mid 50s lows. After the cold front, Sunday morning may be a bit chillier, perhaps some upper 30s with mainly 40s lows and 60s highs, but then we'll gradually warm up next week back to somewhat above normal temperatures. Neither summerlike heat nor winterlike chill is in our near future.
Speaking of winterlike -- the northern Plains are about to get hammered by what appears likely to be a record snowstorm in some locations with 2-3 feet of snow possible in parts of the Dakotas. The next time you feel tempted to send out one of those "Only in Virginia …" memes about changeable temperatures, it should be noted that Billings, Montana, plunged from 74 to 39 in 5 hours Tuesday and is in the mid 20s on this Wednesday evening with snow. Denver, Colorado, hit 82 on Wednesday but is under a winter weather advisory for expected light snow and forecast to be in the teens by Friday morning. This is the same cold front that will pass through our region this weekend, but with a significantly modified air mass.
Arctic air is starting to punch into the lower 48 states. Sooner or later, one of these colder air masses will punch us pretty hard.