Sunday was a terrible day on Interstate 77 near Fancy Gap with 95 vehicles involved in 17 separate crashes during thick fog. At least three died and dozens more injured. This location is an infamously dangerous stretch of highway that has had many extreme pileups over the years, as it is especially susceptible to fog in situations like Sunday (warm air moving north over a cold surface) and high winds in other situations.
March has ended as the fourth coldest in the last six decades at Blacksburg, averaging 35.8 degrees, trailing only 1996 (35.3 degrees), 1969 (34.4 degrees) and brutally cold, snowy March 1960 (27.7 degrees). The last few milder days were just enough to lift Roanoke out of the top 10 coldest Marches at 42.1 degrees, dating to 1912..
The high-latitude blocking high pressure pattern that has produced our early spring cold spell and covered us in white a week ago is slowly unraveling, with perhaps even some signs of a substantial warmup about 7-10 days out. First, there will be one more decent cold front for late Monday and Tuesday(kicking off a few showers) that will pull temperatures back from 60s highs on Monday to 40s-low 50s highs and 20s-30s lows for two or three days. Interestingly, there is likely to be a storm system taking a near-perfect major winter storm track — a curve from New Orleans to Cape Hatteras — late this week (Weather Prediction Center Friday AM weather map at left), but the cold air does not appear it will be intense or thick enough to support wintry precipitation by the time it arrives. While I wouldn’t be totally surprised if some higher elevations saw some wet snow for a time as this system passes, it appears that it will mostly produce a chilly, soaking rain with lots of 40s temperatures late this week. A week or more out, a low-pressure trough moving into the West Coast may turn the flow more southwesterly over much of the nation, bringing a decidedly warmer air flow over us … and possibly erupting the first widespread spring severe weather outbreak of the season in the central U.S.