UPDATE 10 AM: Scattered storms and showers — probably even more than Friday, especially east of Interstate 77 — are likely to develop this afternoon with the heat and humidity. Some storms could be locally strong to severe with gusty winds, hail and some intense rainfall in localized areas. s As is typical in midsummer, some locations will see little rain and others will miss entirely. Keep an eye on the storms with the latest weather service Doppler radar linked here. END UPDATE
This was not the first day in history that Newark, N.J., was warmer than Wichita Falls, Texas — but it was the first time that Newark was 4 degrees hotter when Wichita Falls was at 104 on its 30th straight day of temperatures 103 or above. Newark’s 108 and Dulles International Airport’s 105 (Sterling, Va., in DC suburbs) were among the impressive all-time records set in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast today. Scattered showers and thunderstorms sytmied the afternoon heating some in our neck of the woods, so what looked to be an obvious 100-degree day at Roanoke by mid-afternoon stalled at 98. Still plenty hot and sticky.
We’re not quite done with this heat wave. Saturday and even Sunday have the potential to produce temperatures in the mid to upper 90s from Roanoke south and east, and 100 still isn’t out of the question for Roanoke, especially Saturday. Roanoke’s record high temperature for July 23 is a mere 99 degrees, set in 1952, so it would not be shocking at all for that record to be tied or even broken. Blacksburg’s record of 93, set in 1991, is reachable, too. That’s all dependent on not getting showers and storms moving through the area at peak heating time, as happened on Friday. July 23 records for warmest low of 76 in Roanoke and 71 in Blacksburg, each set in 1999, may also be challenged as humid air holds the nighttime low up.
After the weekend, temperatures will retreat a little back to near-normal/slightly above-normal readings in the mid 80s to low 90s a few days, as the big hot high contracts back to the central U.S. where several long streaks of triple-digit temperatures will be extended. But there is every indication it will expand again by late next week. The Climate Prediction Center is already coloring the dark reds over Virginia and neighboring states in the 6-to-10 day outlook, signaling 70 to 80 percent chances of above-normal temperatures in the July 28-August 1 timeframe. I’ve said before that the dark colors reflect probability, not intensity, but it does appear this could be another run of potential triple-digit temperatures — and maybe aimed more squarely at our region rather than going more toward the Northeast the way this week’s heat wave did. The 8-to-14-day outlook also shows a 50 percent chance of above-normal temperatures. That’s all still several days away, and we have a sticky weekend to get through. But there is no real cooldown on the horizon, yet, and strong signals of multiple waves to this heat. Just because it didn’t hit 100 in Roanoke on Friday doesn’t mean it won’t do so later this summer.