A few announcements:
* Frequent Weather Journal blog commenter Capt. Glen Quagmire has launched his own weather website and blog, which can be found by linking here. I think he has answers from one of his latest winter weather tests on there. I hope the Captain will still drop in here for a few comments and links to his blog this winter.
* WDBJ (Channel 7) has an event Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. called “WeatherFest.” I’ll leave it to Channel 7 to explain it and promote it, linked here. If you attend Saturday, feel free to stop in and say hi to me at the Virginia Tech Storm Chasers exhibit, which will be a fully rigged chase van.
* The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration came out with its official winter forecast Thursday, which projects “equal chances” of above, near and below normal temperature and precipitation for the Eastern U.S. In other words … they don’t know, and are willing to admit such, based on the fickle nature of the presumed El Nino. I’ll use their indecision as another opportunity to remind everyone to enter the Weather Journal snowfall contest, details for which can be found at the bottom of my column from Wednesday, linked here.
Now back to Southwest Virginia weather. If you didn’t get rain tonight — and this radar rain estimate map from the National Weather Service shows that a strip including Roanoke and Blacksburg didn’t get much more than sprinkles, it may be a week or more before you get another chance at it. Our weather will be dominated by developing high pressure over the Southeast the next several days, and also by a dry, warm upper-level flow as low pressure digs into the West. This is what we call the “negative phase” of the Pacific-North America, or PNA, pattern. This pattern often leads to our longer, more protracted periods of above-normal temperatures in winter, while the West is cold and wet. This time, it will indeed lead to a prolonged period of mostly sunny days, with some cool mornings (40s, some 30s, especially this weekend) and wide daily spans of temperature with highs rising into the 70s on many days (though more in the 60s for the highs this weekend). Before this warm spell is over, a day or two touching 80 from Roanoke south and east is not out of the question. Beyond the next 7-10 days or so, this weather pattern may become slowly unraveled, or perhaps collapse rapidly — details on that are too far out for much clarity right now. Since so many locations outside of the immediate Roanoke area have had at least some patchy frost, I think we can go ahead and call this coming period of warm days our “Indian summer” for this fall.