Playing in the mud at a rainy River's Edge

Friends and family make a rainy day more interesting by playing in piles of mud at River’s Edge in Roanoke on Saturday.

When May turned hot and dry, we should have known June would be cooler and wet.

Or maybe when the textbook winter pattern of a Greenland blocking high, western U.S. ridge and eastern U.S. trough that would have brought repeated rounds of cold and snow failed to materialize last winter, perhaps we should have known it would be there by late spring into early summer.

Just as we talked about last week, we have just gotten through several days of sogginess. Roanoke officially measured 4.39 inches and Blacksburg 4.21 inches since last Wednesday, but rainfall amounts of 6 to 10 inches were reported at some other sites, especially southward along the Blue Ridge.

May’s relative dryness was quite a blessing given the abundant rains of the past six days. Such a June rainfall following last year’s waterlogged May would have been an epic flooding disaster for the region. As it was, there were some localized flooding problems involving small streams and roads, but the larger rivers stayed within their banks.

After Tuesday’s much-needed break, there may be a brief relapse of wet weather Wednesday night into Thursday as another cold front approaches the area from the west, with a low-pressure system moving from the Southeast U.S. up the East Coast.

Four or five months ago we definitely would have been thinking about the possibility of snow with such a deep jet stream trough digging into the eastern U.S. and a surface low forming south of us and moving up the coast, but of course in June, that train has long ago left the station.

We will see cool, dry air from Canada filter behind the front, leading to another morning of 50s lows (similar to what you will wake up to on Wednesday) and an afternoon in the 70s with sunshine and low humidity come Friday. It’ll warm up on Saturday, with some lower 80s highs around Roanoke, but remain dry.

Warmth and humidity continue to build for Sunday and Monday ahead of the next front, raising the possibility of showers and thunderstorms, but it will not be sizzling hot nor is the next round of rain expected to be as long or as intense as what we just had.

In the bigger picture, it appears very unlikely that we’ll see another run of heat in June resembling that of late May, with no sign of a “heat dome” high pressure building and jet stream flow varying from “zonal” (west to east) to an eastern U.S. trough (deeply diving to the south).

Roanoke hit 90 last Thursday, just before the first round of storms began, for the first time in June after doing so eight times in May. It would not at all be surprising, given the expected large-scale weather pattern ahead, if there were not another 90-degree high the remainder of June, or at the least just a couple near the end of the month.

The atmospheric pattern has strong high pressure near Greenland and over the West Coast, which serves to funnel cooler air from Canada into the central and eastern U.S. This is exactly the pattern that snow lovers yearned for much of the winter, and that begrudgingly failed to set up, leaving us with only borderline mixy-muck winter weather events after the large Dec. 9 snow dump.

This pattern will also bring periodic storm systems lifting Gulf of Mexico moisture northward, with a trailing cold front providing a focus for showers and storms. There is no immediate sign of a five-day soaker like we just had setting back up, but it appears probable that the month as a whole will tilt to the wet side for most if not all of its remaining almost three weeks.

Just as the early ice, snow and cold of November and early December did not portend an extreme winter ahead for us, the late May surge of heat wasn’t the harbinger of a sizzling June — and didn’t necessarily signal a particularly hot summer, either.

Weather Journal appears on Wednesdays.

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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.

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