RECORD LOWS THIS MORNING: Roanoke 35 (previous May 14 record of 37 in 1996), Blacksburg 31 (tied record of 31, also set in 1996).
The first group of Hokie Storm Chasers head out Tuesday morning for 8-12 days or so in the central U.S. Looks like they’ll get a rather potent set-up for the weekend in a season that hasn’t had much severe weather. While preparing for my own journey with them on the 2nd trip starting near Memorial Day, I’ll be following this first trip closely from home base. We have a few new tracking features that I’ll share on here as they become operational.
The storm chasers may have to scrape a little frost off the windshield leaving home base. However, you may have noticed a somewhat odd configuration of frost and freeze alerts for Tuesday morning from the National Weather Servie in Blacksburg, with the freeze warning primarily along and north of I-64, and the frost advisory primarily east of the Blue Ridge, leaving most of the Roanoke and New River valleys west and southwestward out of them. This configuration is a result of the expectation that light southwesterly winds and possibly mid to high level clouds will stymie the radiational cooling slightly in the areas from the Roanoke and New River valleys south and west. Still, with many lows in the 30s, there is likely to be at least patchy frost, especially in any valleys protected from any developing breezes. The record May 14 low of 37 at Roanoke could be challenged tonight, nonetheless, and the record of 31 at Blacksburg (both records date were set in 1996) definitely isn’t entirely safe if the weather service is even just a little wrong on the timing of the southwest winds and possible clouds. Roanoke’s latest freeze of May 11, 1966, will very likely stand, but I wouldn’t rule out a few 32-degree lows in the some of the areas rimming the Roanoke Valley. In any event, it does not appear a fruit harvest disaster is afoot for the region (per Lindsey Nair’s report on roanoke.com today), but it would be wise to protect any tender outdoor plants especially in areas away from Roanoke’s urban valley floor.
The southwest winds expected to start overnight west of Roanoke are the start of a warm surge that will overtake our region through Thursday, with highs returning to the upper 70s to mid 80s in most areas on both Wednesday and Thursday afternoons.