UPDATE 4:30 PM: Wind advisory on heavy travel day; remembering unusual Thanksgiving weekend storm 61 years ago
UPDATE 4:30 PM, 11/23: High wind warnings have been downgraded to wind advisories for this evening. That could still mean some 50ish gusts. Be careful driving to your Thanksgiving destinations. END UPDATE
Today’s Weather Journal column: The Great Appalachian Storm of 1950. I’m soliciting recollections from readers who may remember the snowstorm that buried our region and especially those just west of us 61 years ago this weekend. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or post a comment on this blog if your remember that event.
We don’t have winter storm conditions to be concerned about this Thanksgiving weekend, but on this big travel day, we do have lots of wind. A high wind warning, for northwest winds behind the cold front that moved through this morning gusting near 60 mph at times, is up for several counties along the Blue Ridge including the Roanoke Valley, and wind advisories are in effect for gusts topping 50 mph for most of the rest of Southwest Virginia to the west. All travelers should be aware of the high winds today, especially those driving high-profile vehicles, and while going through narrow mountain valleys than can channel the winds and exposed ridgetops without protection from the gusts. Interstate 77 through Fancy Gap in Carroll Gap, a notoriously dangerous area for a variety of weather conditions due to a unique geological situation, may be especially hazardous today. The chilly northwest winds and the bright sunshine will be waging a battle for the thermometer today that will more or less end up being a draw, with temperatures holding steady near where they are (mid 50s to low 60s, mostly) much of the day and perhaps gradually dropping during the afternoon. The air behind this front is cold but not extremely so — widespread 30s are likely by Thanksgiving morning. Thanksgiving, Friday and Saturday still look to be unseasonably mild afternoons with highs in the 60s.
We’ll be watching next week’s storm system to see if the forecast models now are on to something with it cutting off a cold pool of air somewhere over the south-central or southeast U.S., cold enough for wet snow in the south while warmer air circulates east and north and causes rain to the north. Most indications for now are that we would be east of the cold pool and would experience rain, but this is all subject to change as details become more focused. I’ll take a closer look at this later this holiday weekend.
For something truly beautiful about this morning’s weather – here are some photos of rainbows this morning from Cathy Benson on the Botetourt View blog. The upslope flow of northwest winds over the mountains may squeeze out a few light showers today … enough for the morning sun to refract through and create rainbows.