While hot and mostly dry weather has settled in to Southwest Virginia for a few days, the Duluth, Minn., area was ravaged by historic flooding as up to 10 inches of rain fell very quickly Tuesday night and Wednesday. Wildfire-charred areas of Colorado and other Western states would have loved to share some of that rainfall.
We have one more day of the current weather regime — highs in the upper 80s to mid 90s in most sub-3,000-foot elevation areas of Southwest Virginia on Thursday, with scattered afternoon pop-up showers and storms — before some interesting changes begin occurring. A cold front will begin pressing into the heat and humidity by Friday, triggering a better chance of more widespread storminess. This appears likely to start a prolonged period when Southwest Virginia will be wedged between a stagnant dome of hot air to the southwest and a cool pocket in New England. The 6-10-day temperature forecast map from the Climate Prediction Center shows this vividly, with the weakest risk of above-normal temperatures edging into the far southwest parts of Virginia while the weakest risk of below-normal temperatures takes in the northern third of the state. The push and pull between these air masses could lead to fronts wagging back and forth through our area, or becoming stalled across or near our region, leading to enhanced thunderstorm chances at times. Temperatures are likely to back down into widespread 80s for highs across Southwest Virginia, perhaps even some 70s if the cooler air wins the shoving match for a day or two, or showers and storms become especially widespread on a given day. A zone of the northwest Caribbean and eastern Gulf of Mexico now has a moderate chance of seeing tropical development, which could add another wrinkle into the long-term forecast.