Great Britain and western Europe are getting pounded today by a powerful north Atlantic cyclone. “Cyclone” in this case does not mean the same as it did when we were talking about Phailin in the Indian Ocean a couple weeks ago, which was the same thing as what we would call a “hurricane.” In this case, cyclone is meant more generically, a large cold-core low-pressure system. Nevertheless, hurricane-force winds and widespread power outages have been reported in England. Nasty day across the pond.
This week, it’s the central U.S. that is in for some tumultuous weather the next few days, with multiple days of severe storm risk, widespread heavy rain, and snow in the Northern Plains and Northern Rockies. This storm system will be affecting Southwest Virginia by late week, as I decribe below.
The trend for Southwest Virginia the next three days will be toward warmer temperatures — possibly punching 70 by Thursday. But this trend will be resisted by a weak wedge effect as high pressure to the east and northeast banks somewhat cooler, wetter air against the mountains and an ill-defined warm front trying to work northward. The result will be periods of cloudiness and some patchy light rain each day through Thursday. Widespread, heavy rain does not appear to be likely — until perhaps late Thursday and especially Friday. That’s when another strong cold front will plow eastward through our area. The atmospheric setup at the end of the week could be very similar to those our region experienced on Sept. 21 and Oct. 7, when a thick band of heavy rain and some thunderstorms moved through. Rainfall amounts were much heavier on Oct. 7 (1-3 inches common, compared to 1/2 to 1 inch on Sept. 21) with a feed of moisture from a former tropical system (Karen), but both cases also provided some shearing winds aloft that led to damaging wind gusts and rotating storms capable of producing brief tornadoes east of the Blue Ridge. This round of rain and storms will be followed by gusty northwest winds and dropping temperatures over the weekend — maybe not quite as sharp as the record morning lows we just experienced over the weekend — with mountain snow showers possible.