There were several severe weather reports in the central U.S. on Wednesday … but the massive fertilizer plant explosion in the town of West, Texas, near Waco is going to dominate the headlines in what has already been a terrifying news week without much contribution from violent weather. Expect some horrific stories and scenes from there as the morning brings the disaster into full light.
Debris clouds from storms to the west overspread the Roanoke and New River valleys and nearby areas much of Wednesday. That kept the sun from warming things enough to destabilize the atmosphere until very late in the day, and that occurred mostly to the north and east from Rockbridge County toward Amherst County and Lynchburg, where a few showers and storms popped. There will be fewer atmospheric reasons for storms to develop on Thursday than on Wednesday, but with highs likely getting close to 80 in many areas, a few scattered storms can’t be ruled out with some convection and a decent amount of moisture. The much bigger threat of rain and storms is likely to arrive during the day Friday as the same strong cold front triggering severe weather in the Plains pushes eastward. The map at left shows the 0Z North American Model’s estimation of where the rain area will be at 8 p.m. Friday evening, the back edge near Roanoke. The severe threat is likely to be a notch or two higher than last week because of deeper moisture, but morning cloudiness and showers ahead of the main storm line may again quell the instability and keep this from being a widespread severe weather event. Rainfall amounts near an inch are projected in much of the region.
Expect breezy and cooler weather, but dry weather, by Saturday, with temperatures in the 40s and 50s much of the day, maybe cracking 60 barely with afternoon sunshine. That’s good running and kite-flying and football weather, and whatever other outdoor activities you may have planned.