Weather Blog: More winter-storm talk and where did the February warmth go!?

Your 7-day forecast, made on the afternoon of Saturday, March 11, 2017, shows an unseasonably chilly weather pattern for mid-March standards. Some wintry weather appears likely for parts of Tuesday & Wednesday before temps slowly moderate. (WCHS/WVAH)

Good Sunday!

I hope you enjoyed your Saturday. It wasn't warm--but at least it was quiet with plenty of sunshine. Instead of reaching 54 degrees--where we should be this time of the year--the mercury only climbed to 37 degrees! That's cold for mid-winter standards, let alone the middle part of March. I suppose it felt colder due to the fact that we were so badly spoiled in the month of February; our average temperature so far this March is actually lower than the entire month of February was! And according to the 7-day forecast, the cooler trend should continue as the days go on. For snow-lovers, can we finally see the 'big one' during this time-frame? How long should the cold last? Here is your complete and detailed, seven-day forecast...

TONIGHT: Mostly clear to partly cloudy and cold. Low: 17. DON'T FORGET--DAYLIGHT SAVING TIME BEGINS AT 2:00 AM. SET YOUR CLOCKS FORWARD.

  • Brrrr! If your wind goes completely calm tonight, then watch out--temperatures will go kerplunk in a hurry. This ship has already sailed for many of us, especially across outlying valleys and hollows--where temps have already fallen into the lower 20's as of Midnight. That's really bad news--again--for any trees or plants that thought it was time to burst forth with new life. They're tough, though--they will bounce back. Anyhow, the conditions that are promoting a quiet night--mostly clear skies, dry air and little, if any, wind in the lower atmosphere--are also the same conditions that are promoting a cold night. Undercut MOS guidance a few degrees tonight due to the satellite analysis--showing just a little cloud-cover. There are more clouds upstream near Columbus and further northwest, but those appear to be reluctant to get in here, plus they are thin--not exactly the best kind of clouds to slow falling temperatures. Meanwhile, the system that caused a lot of chatter last week in the weather world is passing harmlessly well towards our south across Tennessee and parts of the Carolinas tonight--so no concern for any precipitation.

SUNDAY: After a frigid start, mostly sunny and cool. High: 41.

  • If you're heading to Church early on, make sure to get that car started and don't leave your jacket behind! Most of us should start the day in the upper teens to around 20 degrees--that's a really hard freeze for this time of the year. Nonetheless, at least it's quiet, though. In fact, after a cold start--the rest of the day looks good if you don't mind a little chill. Models show a high-pressure scooting across the Great Lakes region, which will allow our winds--though pretty light--to come out of the north. Despite strong March Sunshine, this colder air flow should inhibit our temperatures from rising all that much. However, it will be a quiet and mostly sunny day thanks to a very dry atmosphere in place--so 41 won't feel awful if you're in direct sunlight. February did spoil us, though :)
  • The overnight looks cold again, but it's a tricky forecast for exact low temperatures. Some mid to high clouds should increase from the west overnight--and if they're thick enough, temps may be slower to drop. Still, though, looks like we'll fall into the lower 20s by dawn Monday given the very dry air still in place and at least mostly clear skies early in the night.

MONDAY: After a cold start, partly cloudy and milder with a slight breeze in the afternoon. Rain showers--possibly mixed with a little sleet and/or wet snow--nearing from the west around evening-time. High: 52.

  • As previously stated, this morning should start cold in the lower 20s. However, temperatures should quickly rise by the late-morning and early-afternoon, as a south-southeasterly breeze begins to develop in response to a low-pressure tracking across Illinois and Indiana as the day goes on. In fact, with a very dry atmosphere in place initially--which should yield some sunshine--and a downsloping wind sinking off of the Appalachians, it's certainly possible that my projected high of 52 degrees will be too low. This relatively dry and lift-less atmosphere will hold strong through the middle part of the afternoon--so it looks fine in that time-frame. Thereafter, however, more careful analysis is needed. The latest NAM model shows a surge of low-level moisture and some upper-air ripples of energy preceding the surface low by the late-afternoon and evening; if you take this to heart, then increasing rain showers would most likely occur in that time-frame. I'm skeptical of that, though--mostly due to a pronounced downsloping wind for much of the day, which has shown in the past to delay rainfall for the Kanawha Valley. What's more certain is that mid to high clouds will be on the increase as the day goes on. Once rainfall does make it in here--most likely after 5 PM--there's enough dry air in the lower atmosphere to cause some wet-bulbing, or evaporative cooling effects. This may be robust enough for a little sleet to mix in initially; this would especially be true north and east of town during the evening. Surface air temps, however, are unlikely to be close enough to freezing to cause any issues, though--especially after a milder day with a breeze. Above 2,000 feet across the eastern mountains, however, heavy wet snow can't be ruled out by Monday evening--as models show deep moisture, good forcing for ascent (lift) and cold-enough air there before the energy associated with the Ohio Valley low transfers over to a developing Nor'easter off the Delmarva overnight. Ultimately, this Ohio Valley low--with it's accompany warm-wedge--looks to really hurt our heavy snow chances here across the lower elevations.

TUESDAY: After a mix of rain and snow early on, cloudy, cold and brisk with snow showers around in the afternoon. High: 38.

  • Depending upon the speed of decay with the Ohio Valley low, there's a question mark in regards to what precip type will be occurring across the Kanawha Valley early on. I've seen cases where the lowest-level air--namely a thousand to 2 thousand feet off the ground--takes a LONG time to cool off enough to support all snow in these situations. Therefore, I decided to forecast a mix of rain and snow showers early on--as boundary layer temps may be slow to drop in a fairly weak CAA regime initially. However, the NAM model shows stronger CAA occurring during the afternoon and evening--as a cyclone bomb--or Nor'easter, tracks up the Northeast Coastline. By then, though, the best moisture and forcing for ascent DIRECTLY associated with this strong area of low-pressure will have moved east of us, so the right overlapping/juxtaposition just doesn't look likely here for heavy snow. Across the eastern mountains and especially the eastern panhandle, however, this 'sweet spot' may be with them for at least 3-6 hours as the surface low rides up/near the coast of New Jersey. This means heavy snowfall for that portion of the state. As for the I-64 corridor, we'll have to depend on wraparound moisture INDIRECTLY associated with the Nor'easter, an upslope wind-flow and steep low-level lapse rates to generate bands of snow showers and possibly even a few squalls occasionally. Temperatures look too marginal for any substantial accumulation for the lower elevations--plus the precipitation should trend more scattered in nature. It will be cold and brisk--wind-chills most likely in the 20s. This upslope snow may be enhanced for our area overnight into Wednesday AM, as models show a surge of colder air arriving from the NW.
  • On a side note, it looks like the I-95 Corridor (Washington to Baltimore to NYC and to Boston) will see a crippling blizzard here. 1-2 Feet of snow is likely, along with 50 MPH wind-gusts. Some areas of interior PA and NY may see more than 2 feet. Snowfall rates could exceed 3-4 inches per hour in the heaviest bands! Thundersnow?

WEDNESDAY: Mostly cloudy, unseasonably cold and brisk. Scattered snow showers and squalls at times. High: 31.

  • The Nor'easter, now up near Maine/Nova Scotia, will be so powerful at this point that it looks to alter the Jet-Stream over our region! Indeed, model guidance does show a big dip in the jet-stream, or a trough, over much of the Ohio Valley and Mid-Atlantic region. This means much colder air and pieces of energy--mostly in the upper-atmosphere--occasionally rotating by to induce upward motion. This rising air will have plenty of cold-air--in the heart of the trough--to work with to manufacture snow showers and possibly even some squalls in the northwest flow. This won't be synoptic snow, or a big chunk of widespread snow, but NW to SE oriented bands/squalls--especially given the steep lapse rates in place--may put down a 1/2 to 1" for some across the lowlands. Several inches may occur across the eastern mountain counties. It will be bitter cold--especially with a gusty NW wind in place. Wind-chills will likely stay in the teens to lower 20s--brrrr! If we're lucky, we might see a few peeks of sun occasionally--as this can happen when you get squalls, or banded snow--but it won't help much.

THURSDAY: After a frigid start, mostly sunny and cool. High: 39.

  • A very cold start here if the low-level moisture can scour out from the night prior. Guidance shows a high-pressure nudging in from the west overnight Wednesday, which would allow for lighter winds, dry air and clearing skies. If this occurs--then we're probably starting the day in the low to mid teens--ouch! If the low stratus can hang tough in the NW Upslope Flow--probably more like the lower 20s. That's still cold, but the latter sounds a touch better. Unless a subsidence inversion develops, which can sometimes happen when high-pressure systems move into a cold airmass, the afternoon should yield increasing sunshine! It's a small victory, though, as a light, northwesterly flow will still keep us only in the 30s most likely. At least it's quiet--as the atmosphere looks much drier per both the GFS and ECMWF (Euro) models.

SAINT PATRICK'S DAY FRIDAY: After a cold start, mostly sunny and milder. High: 51.

  • Again--most likely another cold start to the day. We can thank our high-pressure friend again, which will take away any blanket from the night prior and the air will remain very dry. MOS guidance, as it normally does this far out, suggests a slightly milder start to the day, but I'm thinking upper teens are likely given the aforementioned conditions. Thankfully, though, the Luck of the Irish should be with us in the afternoon--as models suggest the high-pressure moving just towards our east. This set-up should yield plenty of sunshine and a wind-shift more out of the south; as a result, temperatures should recover to near/slightly below seasonable levels for this time of the year. It will feel pretty nice compared to past days! By late in the evening--clouds should be on the increase from the west, as models show a warm-front/shortwave moving across the Midwest region. Hopefully, this can keep our temps up a LITTLE more for Saint Patrick Days festivities.

SATURDAY: After some rain showers early on, partly cloudy and breezy. High: 52.

  • Obviously, this many days out--confidence can be somewhat low, but the longer-range guidance does seem to converge on the idea of a quick-moving wave of energy coming in from the west here. Based on wind-trajectories--mostly south--and the transient nature of the Jet-Stream per the ECMWF, most of the precipitation associated with this wave should be in the form of rain. After some rain showers early in the day--milder air should quickly try to return in the wake of the upper-air shortwave thanks to a westerly breeze and the main front not making it through. With decreasing clouds possible--the lower 50s may be able to still be reached. Again, with this forecast--it's all about the speed of the system.

Have a great Sunday and take care!

WCHS Meteorologist, Brandon Stover

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