Weather Blog: More March Madness coming this way?

Happy Saturday!

I hope you enjoyed this 4th day of March! We got off to a very cold start, though, as many of us were in the upper teens to around 20 degrees this morning--brrr! That's not 'out of this world cold' for this time of the year--it's still winter by the way--but given the warmth in February, it was definitely a shock to the system. Unfortunately, that cold will also be a shock to plants and trees that decided to flower early--this may set them back some when true spring arrives. Will this spring-like warmth return for next week? More cold nights on the way? How about the potential for any severe thunderstorms? Here is your complete and detailed, seven-day forecast--

TONIGHT: Mostly clear, quiet and cold. Low: 23.

  • Brrrrr! Probably the best way to sum up tonight. The conditions are nearly optimal for a cold night--mostly clear skies, little, if any, wind in the boundary layer and dry air evidenced by dewpoints in the upper teens to around 20 degrees. In theory, and probably in reality, too, these dewpoint numbers suggest the overnight low's tonight given the lack of a blanket overhead--i.e. clouds. The only forecasting challenge perhaps would be valley and ridge discrepancies; namely, with a warm-front draped just towards our southwest--some warmer air does exist aloft--hilltops and ridges may trend a few degrees warmer than outlying valleys and hollows. That's pretty typical for West Virginia at night, though, in these type of setups. Despite the favorable conditions for maximum cooling across the low-spots, none of the MOS guidance, or short-run models, suggest the possibility for any fog developing. This is most likely due to a light, easterly wind slowly developing tonight. Given the heavy rainfall not too many days ago, I suppose it's possible for some areas of black ice to develop where the ground is especially water-logged--like on secondary roads north of Charleston. Probably not a widespread issue, but it can't entirely be ruled out.

SUNDAY: After a cold start, mostly sunny and warmer in the afternoon. High: 63.

  • The morning will start cold--mostly in the lower 20s for many--but it will be mostly clear & quiet, though, thanks to a nearby high-pressure. Some of the outlying hollows and valleys may begin their day in the upper teens! However, expecting a rapid warm-up by the late-morning, as a light southerly wind develops along the western periphery of a high-pressure anchored off the Mid-Atlantic. Furthermore, there will be plenty of sunshine, too, as the atmospheric column looks very dry. Due to this, and warmer air from aloft mixing down within a broad WAA regime, temperatures should reach the low to mid 60s across the lowlands by the late-afternoon! It may actually feel a touch warmer than this due to little, if any, wind. The weather looks very quiet also--only a few, high, cirrus clouds may harmlessly drop down from the northwest as the day goes on. Otherwise, a lot of sunshine! :) You may want to refrain from burning anything, though, as relative humidities will be low--particularly across the southern coalfields and southeast Kentucky.

MONDAY: Mostly cloudy and mild with a slight breeze developing. A few sprinkles or rain showers around for some--especially early on. High: 64.

  • Clouds will thicken and lower as early as overnight Sunday into Monday morning. This surge of moisture will be in response to a deepening low-pressure across the northern Plains, which will allow a low-level jet to nose into the region and a deepening supply of moisture, too. These processes, along with a weak upper-air disturbance or two crossing from , should be enough for SCATTERED & LIGHT showers to develop early in the day. Not even a guarantee that your community will see drops, but given the setup--scattered activity can't be ruled out. Otherwise, with a southerly breeze developing by the late-morning and afternoon in response to a pressure gradient (High-Pressure off the Carolinas and a strong low over NW Minnesota), this downsloping flow should dry the lower part of the atmosphere out for much of the region; therefore, expecting this light and scattered activity to fade towards the north and east. This moisture thinning should allow for a few faint peeks of sun--but overall, it looks like a mostly cloudy day given a good amount of moisture persisting in the middle part of the atmosphere. Despite this, though, a downsloping flow amid this WAA regime suggests temps still reaching the low to mid 60s. May actually feel cooler than Monday, however, given more cloud-cover and a slight breeze.

TUESDAY: Mostly cloudy, warm and breezy with rain increasing--mostly in the afternoon and evening. A thunderstorm possible. High: 67.

  • Models suggest a very strong low-pressure--976 mb or so--tracking north of Minnesota and deeper into Canada as the afternoon goes on. While that's far away from us, its synoptic impact is quite large. In fact, a strong front--associated with that system--will near from the west by the late-afternoon and evening. Out ahead of this front, a gusty southerly breeze will transport both warmth and moisture into West Virginia and surrounding locations. In the mid to upper-atmosphere--winds will veer more out of the west and strengthen as the upper-air trough draws closer. Kinematically, that sounds like an ominous set-up for severe weather, but thankfully--none of the guidance shows substantial enough instability to initiate surface-based thunderstorms, so not concerned at this point for any severe storms. Actually, it may be difficult for a single thunderstorm to develop per the latest NAM model--it essentially shows little, to no, instability. Nonetheless, these type of setups usually allow for a skinny amount of weak instability to slide up and along the front--so kept a small chance for a storm in there. For the most part, though, this front will bring widespread rain showers to the region in a west to east-fashion by the mid-afternoon and on. Of course, timing can change when you're dealing with a front--but it looks like the 2nd half of the afternoon and evening should be the most unsettled. The NAM model, which tends to be pretty bullish, suggests a half inch to 1 inch of rain for some. That's a good amount, but without thunderstorms coming into play--plus 5 days of 'rest' since the last rainfall--I think our streams and creeks should be o.k.

WEDNESDAY: Mostly sunny, mild and breezy. High: 57.

  • We'll be behind the wind-swept front on this day. Normally, you would think that would mean upslope-driven clouds and possibly even some flakes or drops--but none of the guidance shows any moisture lingering behind this front. That's a good thing! With the atmospheric column looking pretty dry in the wake of this frontal passage, pattern recognition will have to take a backseat to plenty of sunshine! It looks windy, however, as the pressure gradient--especially with a high-pressure building down into Missouri and Arkansas--will be pretty strong. Wouldn't be surprised, given the sunshine for mixing, for wind-gusts to occasionally reach, or exceed, 30 MPH by the late-morning and afternoon. Temperatures are somewhat of a question mark--as the two main models, the GFS & the ECMWF (Euro), have different opinions. The ECMWF is much warmer than the GFS; given the progressive nature of this pattern and the ECMWF's track record, I decided to trend closer to it. As a result, temperatures should rise into the upper 50s due to a gusty, westerly wind in the afternoon. Not bad for being behind a front!

THURSDAY: Partly cloudy and mild with a slight breeze. High: 58.

  • Long-range guidance suggests a dry day here, too. Both the ECMWF & GFS models show a high-pressure moving across the Southeastern United States--which would place our region along the northern periphery of that system. This synoptic setup would most likely keep a westerly breeze going for us--which may push up warmer air. I *conservatively* went 58 degress here, but given this pattern--along the ECMWF suggesting warmer temps--60s could certainly be possible. Regardless, it looks like a mild day with only a few clouds passing by occasionally.

FRIDAY: After a few showers--especially early on--partly cloudy, warm and breezy. High: 67.

  • As you would expect, some model differences this far out--but it looks like the ECMWF knows what it's doing. It suggests a quick-moving low-pressure jamming down from the WNW in the fast-flow aloft. Current guidance has it moving across Michigan and quickly into PA--which would place us on the warmer side of it. There looks to be enough moisture and energy with this system for a brief period of rain showers--most likely early in the day--but timing a zonal flow system this far out is very difficult. At the very least, it should be a quick-mover--so the atmosphere should quickly recover and warm with a southwesterly breeze and some sun in the wake of this feature. Without a northern branch trough and the front associated with this system never making it through, mid to upper 60s appear likely.

SATURDAY: Partly sunny, warm and breezy. An isolated shower and/or thunderstorm possible--mostly north and west of town. High: 73.

  • Quickly on the heels of the low scooting towards our north on Friday--will be a low developing towards our west on Saturday. The ECWMF model shows a low-pressure riding a strong baroclinic zone and nearing our region from the west late in the day. Again, this many days out--probably not wise to get too cute with this system. Nonetheless, models do show our region being south of this frontal zone--and with a southerly breeze most likely developing in advance of the low, I think temperatures have a good chance of reaching the 70s. That's assuming the rain can stay north and west of us, as is currently forecasted. By late in the day--based on current forecasts--the low-pressure may draw close enough to kick off some showers and possibly even a thunderstorm; this would most likely occur across parts of NW West Virginia and SE Ohio given a downsloping flow in place. Synoptically, this general set-up may suggest an overlapping of instability and wind-shear--so a strong or severe thunderstorm could be possible if this solution verifies. The speed of this system will have a lot to say in how exactly this shakes out, though.

Have a great night and take care!

WCHS Meteorologist, Brandon Stover

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