UPDATE 8:30 PM: The Storm Prediction Center’s updated mesoscale discussion sums up the severe weather situation well — isolated severe storm cells, but ingredients missing for larger scale severe weather. The SPC has dropped its chances of issuing a watch this evening from 80 percent to 40 percent. The strongest storm cells this evening continue to move southeast generally along the Interstate 77 corridor — and some of them have put out some large hail, up to golfball-sized. Other small storm cells have moved east into the New River Valley, but have generally weakened (though new cells have recently developed in the Blacksburg-Christiansburg area). The threat for localized severe weather will continue into the evening, but it does appear at this time that we will not see even a partial repeat of last night’s derecho event. END UPDATE
UPDATE 6:15 PM: Small but intense storms are developing in a scattered fashion, primarily in two areas: Along the Blue Ridge south of Roanoke, and west of Interstate 77 from Wytheville northwest into southern West Virginia. Storms are generally moving east. Thunderstorm warnings have already been issued for Franklin and Bedford counties, among others. Follow the latest on our Radar / Future Cast linked here. END UPDATE
Another extremely hot afternoon (100 once again at Roanoke) has destabilized the atmosphere, and severe storm potential is once again growing for Southwest Virginia as we move through the late afternoon and evening. The Storm Prediction Center has highlighted much of western and central Virginia for a heightened threat of severe storms, and states that there is an 80 percent chance another watch will be issued, with damaging winds once again as the main threat. It is likely, however, that the development of storms will be different than those of Friday’s massive derecho that blasted from the Upper Midwest to the East Coast. For one thing, cumulus clouds are building rapidly very near us (4:15 p.m. satellite photo linked), along the Blue Ridge south of Roanoke, and westward into southern West Virginia and eastern Kentucky. Some of these building “towers’ may develop into storms within the next hour or two. It is expected that, in time, some of the storms will connect into one or more storm clusters, perhaps smaller versions of Friday’s lengthy bow echo. We also still need to watch activity in Indiana and Illinois to see if it coalescess and organizes into a storm cluster that could arrive later this evening.