The strong western Atlantic low (satellite photo linked here) that led to heavy snow amounts Tuesday and Wednesday north of the Roanoke Valley (Roanoke Times article and photos on Rockbridge County’s heavy snow linked here) is continuing to wreak havoc on the East Coast with high ocean surge in regions affected heavily by Superstorm Sandy. Click on this link from the newly renamed Weather Prediction Center (formerly the Hydrometeorological Prediction Center) for a list of various inclement weather reports from the storm.
Rotation around the low will keep some cold westerly to northwesterly breezes going into at least Friday, but this is March, with a higher sun angle and more hours of sunlight than midwinter, and the air mass is not as deeply Arctic as it could be. High temperatures with sunny skies in the 40s to low 50s will reign the next couple of days in Southwest Virginia, which are generally a little below normal. Then the blocking pattern that has trapped cold air in the southern and eastern U.S. finally loses its grip, leading to a weekend warmup that could push temperatures above 60 on Sunday. It will be a short lived warmup, though, as a strong low pressure system dragging a cold front approaches early next week, leading to what could be a period of substantial rainfall on Monday and Tuesday, adding to what has flipped from drought into a moist past 6 weeks or so in the region. But the front it pulls through also will begin the process of developing a new colder than normal air mass that may hang on much of the next 10 days to 2 weeks afterward. Colder than normal for mid March will probably mean some 40s highs/20s lows days. Presumptions that the storm Tuesday and Wednesday was the “last shot” at significant snowfall in Southwest Virginia may or may not be true if this colder pattern develops in full, with high-latitude blocking highs trapping bubbles of relatively cold air far to the south of normal. Although, as we move later on the calendar moving from winter to spring, an atmospheric setup leading to snow must fire on even more of its cylinders perfectly to make it work, especially in lower elevations. Snow chances aside, it is becoming increasingly apparent that this March will be much different on the thermometer than last year’s warmest March on record.