UPDATE MIDNIGHT, 5/4: An area of storms in West Virginia, Kentucky and Ohio is sliding toward us overnight. Some parts of Southwest Virginia may experience a period of rumbles and heavy rain in the early morning hours, with chances being greater the farther west you are in the region. (Follow the overnight storms on the Weather Journal’s new radar display, linked here.) There will be likely be some break in rain after this passes, but new scattered storms could develop in the afternoon, as daytime heating, humidity, a weak front from the north and a rather potent upper-level disturbance interact. Sunday looks to be similar, perhaps a few degrees cooler behind the “backdoor” cold front. No real change in the general weather until a stronger cold front pushes in about midweek. END UPDATE
90 degrees will have to wait — maybe til late May or even June, when we would more typically expect it. Roanoke’s high fell a degree short of 90 again Thursday, while Blacksburg soared to a new record high for May 3, 87 degrees. The heat and humidity — dew points well into the 60s — cooked up some afternoon thunderstorms, some of which became severe with some hail reports. We’ll likely see somewhat more numerous showers and storms in Southwest Virginia both Friday and Saturday, as the warmth and humidity combine with (a) an upper-level disturbance moving northeastward from the Gulf of Mexico and (b) a “backdoor” cold front that will slide southward to near the North Carolina-Virginia border or a little farther south on Saturday. These systems will assist the unseasonable warmth — highs are likely to back off into the upper 70s to mid 80s most places with more clouds, but that’s still 10-15 degrees above normal for early May — in creating more lift and instability to create thunderstorms, some of which may contain gusty winds and hail. (Inset image at left is the Weather Central “Futurecast” for 3 p.m. Friday, showing scattered green blobs for showers and storms, as seen on Weather Journal’s new Radar/Futurecast display linked in the right margin.) Periods of showers and storms and continued warmer than normal temperatures appear to be likely through about the middle of next week, when a strong cold front is expected to push through, leading to several days of much cooler weather. Whether that just means cooler than what we’re seeing now — i.e. back to normals in the upper 60s/low 70s for highs and lows in the mid 40s to low 50s — or something a bit colder that could raise frost concerns, at least in outlying areas, late next week remains a bit blurry.