Friday marks the anniversary of the peak day of the 2011 Super Outbreak, when 316 people were killed in tornadoes across the South and East, the fourth deadliest day of tornadoes in U.S. history. Glade Spring, Virginia, on Interstate 81 south between Wytheville and Abingdon was hard hit by an EF-3 tornado during that outbreak, and the scars haven’t entirely healed a year later. One way to recall that terrible week is to look back on Weather Journal entries in late April 2011, many of which deal with the severe weather outbreak, as it was happening and in the immediate aftermath.
Thankfully, we do not have anything that ballistic to deal with this year. We do have a flip-flopping front that will move north and south like a jump rope the next several days. It lifted north as a warm front late Wednesday and early Thursday, helping trigger the round of showers and storms we saw, in association with an upper-level impulse sliding east-southeastward. (Linked here: A list of regional rain totals, through 9 p.m. Thursday.) That will push it south for Friday, which means a dry day is likely. But a new disturbance approaching Saturday could lead to another round of showers and storms across much of our region. There will be some potential for heavy rain and/or strong storms, depending on how the pieces come together, and when they do. Timing, placement and intensity of each new round of showers and storms resulting from upper-level disturbances interacting with this back-and-forth frontal boundary are difficult to forecast until just a few hours before each new event. Saturday is not likely to be a total washout for most people, but it’s also unlikely to be totally dry. Something in between is the most likely outcome for those planning outdoor activities. (As of Thursday evening, the Hydrometeorological Prediction Center is leaning more to the dry side for our immediate region.) Sunday may also have some showers and storms before the front slides back to the south. It will come north yet again in the early to middle part of the coming week, but appears likely to eventually push far enough northward that a warmer and drier weather regime will take hold, with several days topping 80 next week as we move into May.