Over the years, it’s often been noted frequently that the official Roanoke weather observations often don’t seem to capture the extremes many in the Roanoke Valley experience for things like temperature, rainfall and snowfall. But thunderstorm wind speeds seem to be another matter. The 71 mph gust recorded at Roanoke Regional Airport on Wednesday afternoon marked the sixth time in three years that a 62 mph or stronger gust was recorded in a summer thunderstorm. It actually topped the 68 mph gust recorded in the June 13 “son of derecho.” While 2012 produced the 81 mph gust during the June 29 derecho, Roanoke actually had a triple play of 62+ wind gusts within two weeks in 2011, on June 21 (62 mph), June 28 (64 mph) and July 4 (75 mph). Besides the derecho and to a lesser extent the June 13 event, none of the other 4 storms were widespread wind damage situations, including Wednesday’s … the airport, and by extension parts of the northern Roanoke Valley, just keep landing in the narrow path of wind damage, while many other areas keep missing the strongest winds.
There may be more where Wednesday’s storms came from. In the early morning hours a few rumbles and downpours may survive from a storm complex in the Ohio Valley — the afternoon storms used up a lot of the instability, so it’s not going to be what it could have been (the farther west you are from Roanoke, the better chance the overnight storms may have some severe winds). But that doesn’t mean it won’t get fired back up again on Thursday. Daytime heating, thick humidity, a series of upper-level impulses, and an approaching cold front (that’s probably going to stall and hang around near us for DAYS) will be plenty to trigger additional storms on Thursday. As of late Wednesday night, the Storm Prediction Center put most of Virginia in a slight risk of storms. (UPDATE 9 AM: New map from SPC place slight risk for most of Virginia EAST of the Blue Ridge, but the situation is fluid. END UPDATE) Exactly where and how strong these storms develop will be determined by lots of factors in motion, including cloudiness from morning rain and where outflow boundaries from overnight storms end up. So it’s not a sure thing the same places that got bad storms on Wednesday will again on Thursday — but somebody not far away probably will.
We’re not going to get out of this periodic showery-stormy pattern anytime soon. More storm chances through the weekend — not storming every second, but always a threat.