UPDATE: 10 AM, 12/14: Amending the section below about rain chances — new model data suggets the best chance of rain may come Sunday, though not very heavy rain, with an initial push of moisture and a fairly weak storm system. It appears the larger storm system we’ve been discussing will form much farther north, so rain chances in the Monday-Wednesday time frame are looking lower, and snow chances just about nil. Colder air from Canada is expected to arrive late week. END UPDATE
We don’t get a chance to graduate someone from Weather Journal very often, but in a way, that’s what we are doing with Kathryn Prociv. Kathryn filled in on Weather Journal on 9 days in the last 2 months as I took some vacation time. She taught an introductory meteorology class at Virginia Tech this fall, after finishing her master’s degree in geography the previous spring. The semester is ending, and Kathryn is returning to the Washington, D.C., area, where she spent her teenage years, to pursue some new opportunities. One of those opportunities is a part-time gig with the Capital Weather Gang, the Washington Post’s weather blog. Scroll down on this link and the first female face you’ll see is Kathryn’s, with a short biography. Kathryn’s posts on the Post’s blog won’t be on a regular schedule … I’ll make note of some of them from time to time when I know she’s up. Once again, I offer my sincerest appreciation to Kathryn for filling in for me so seamlessly on the Weather Journal blog and also for being steady eyes on the radar and the forecast models when I was keeping my eyes on the road (and the sky right in front of me) in three years of storm chasing. Happy trails, KP! She might be back on here again for a few posts someday, you never know.
The forecast models are starting to come together a little more on next week’s storm, and it’s about what we’ve been talking as a strong possibility — a somewhat inland, late-developing storm system that will not be able to pull down enough cold air fast enough for widespread snow in Southwest Virginia. Really, there’ll be sort of a 1-2-3 punch next week — a late Sunday-Monday chance of showers with an initial storm system tracking northwest of us, the potential Tuesday storm system that will likely be rainy, and then a couple days later, a push of Arctic air when the low gets wrapped up tightly north of us. There may be some chance of snow in the higher elevations in West Virginia and far southwest Virginia with Tuesday’s system, and then some upslope snow showers once the Arctic blast kicks in. Otherwise, it’s mainly a question of how much rain we can get to offer some relief to the long-term drought that we’ll be feeling pretty hard if it’s still hanging around by summer. The Hydrometeorological Prediction Center is suggesting a widespread rainfall of about 0.75 inch may occur by Tuesday evening. This may be tweaked up or down some, but I don’t think this one is going to really dig the deep moisture or be tightly wrapped enough to deliver a 2-inch soaker or anything of that magnitude. I still have some concern that the storm may skip us just a little bit, with heavier rain to the southwest in the Tennessee Valley (as depicted on the map) and perhaps again northeast of us once the coastal low takes shape. We probably get at least a little wet early next week, and likely get pretty cold toward the latter part of the week. The wet and the cold don’t look to overlap too much, though, this time around.
In the meantime, we look to have 4 days with highs in the 50s, maybe a few low 60s on Saturday. There will be some chance of showers Saturday and Sunday as moisture builds ahead of the next storm system, but it appears the best chances of rain will be in the Sunday night to Tuesday period. The weather for Friday night’s Stagg Bowl, the NCAA Division II national championship football game, at Salem Stadium looks unusually placid, with a mostly clear night and temperatures in the 40s — which won’t be all that chilly for teams and fans from Ohio (Mount Union) and Minnesota (St. Thomas). Many local snow fans fondly remember the weather this game brought to our region on Dec. 18-19, 2009.