UPDATE 11:30 PM, 3/13: Roanoke’s high temperature came up a degree short of the 80 mark on Tuesday, but will likely equal or exceed it both Wednesday and Thursday. Thursday’s high could well tie or set a record for March15, with the standing mark at 82 degrees set in 1944. Blacksburg’s record high of 77 for March 14, set in 2007, may be challenged on Wednesday. By Friday into the weekend, a weak cold front, daytime heating, mountain effects and growing humidity may trigger scattered showers and storms, which may cut the highs down somewhat, perhaps below the 80-degree mark. It’s very similar to a typical summer pattern rather than spring, with upper-level wind dynamics unlikely to support any widespread threat of severe weather during the weekend despite much above-normal temperatures. END UPDATE
UPDATE 4PM: With a mid-afternoon temperature of 78 degrees at Roanoke Regional Airport, it is possible that the 80-degree mark may be reached this afternoon. It remains a good possbility each day through Friday as well. END UPDATE
For those who may be interested in the Blacksburg area (or who can get to the Blacksburg area), the deputy director of the National Weather Service, Laura Furgione, is giving a keynote address open to the public at 2 p.m. today (Tuesday) at 100 McBryde on the Virginia Tech campus. It is part of “A Showcase of Female Scientists” (more information linked here). The focus of Furgione’s talk will be how the nation prepares for extreme weather and climate events.
There is a small chance of showers and maybe even a thunderstorm or two on Tuesday as a dwindling front hangs around the area. But it should still warm well above 70 in most of Southwest Virginia, the first of at least 4 consecutive days that will do so. The season’s first 80-degree reading remains a possibility for Roanoke in the Wednesday to Friday timeframe. The daily record high for March 15 (Thursday) at Roanoke is 82, set in 1944 … that one has the best chance of being challenged this week, with the Hydrometeorological Prediction Center map at left showing projected highs in the upper 70s to near 80 throughout Virginia and North Carolina on Thursday. The overall warm pattern, with high pressure dominating the eastern half of the country, is expected to continue into the foreseeable future, perhaps a couple of weeks or more, as there is no signal at all that it will shift substantially. There may be a short-lived break in the very warm temperatures this weekend as a cold front sliding in from the north may allow high pressure over New England to nose in somewhat cooler air for a day or two. Details are a little fuzzy on that now, as they are on any potential for weak fronts and passing disturbances to trigger a few showers and storms in the latter half of the week.
As for whether March will itself set a record for warmth, toppling Roanoke’s record average March temperature of 57.2 degrees set in 1921 would require the remaining 19 days of the month to average close to 63 degrees. That would mean averaging something like a 73 high/53 low over nearly 3 weeks — not impossible, given the pattern, but probably a stretch to expect, with even modest cold fronts or unexpectedly cloudy days possibly eroding that average. Having the second warmest March, slipping ahead of the 56-degree average of March 1945 (the only March on record to include a 90-degree day at Roanoke, on March 19) would require averaging 61 degrees from here on out, while unseating third-place 2007 (53.2 average) would require averaging about 57 degrees over the final 19 days of the month. Roanoke’s average temperature over the first 12 days is a little above 48 degrees. That is just about certain to climb several degrees in the days ahead.