Weather Blog: Remarkable February Warmth Heading This Way

Good Saturday Night!

I hope you enjoyed this 18th of February! Although clouds were on the increase today--some of which produced some raindrops, too--we still saw an unseasonably warm day, as temperatures rose into the low to mid 60s. Our normal high this time of the year SHOULD be in the upper 40s--make sure to keep that in mind over the next several days! How much rain are we expecting tonight? How warm will it turn next week? Will showers and even some thunderstorms occur at times? Here is your complete and detailed, seven-day forecast...

TONIGHT: Cloudy with widespread rain showers, especially before 4 AM. Mild for mid-February standards. Low: 47.

  • As of midnight, seeing a steady band of rain along the I-64 corridor. It's mostly light, however, to occasionally moderate. It appears to be in response to some pieces of upper-level energy rotating around the northern side of an upper-level low roughly centered over southeast Kentucky. There's definitely a 'deformation look' to this rainfall, too, as it's banded and stretched out a good bit--almost gives a wet snow appearance on regional radar, but temps are simply too warm for that. Per short-range guidance and observations taken so far, expecting about 0.2 to 0.3 inches of rain to occur within this band tonight--so certainly enough to cause some ponding on roadways, but not enough for any water issues. It appears the deeper moisture and the best forcing for ascent will pivot south and east with the parent upper-level low after 4-5 AM, so the steadier rain will end in that time-frame. In the wake of that, though, plenty of low-level moisture and a veering wind more out of the west-northwest in the lower atmosphere may squeeze some drizzle/passing shower out for some--mostly east across the higher terrain. Otherwise, some low clouds for most by dawn tomorrow. Temperatures will be pretty steady tonight in the mid to upper 40s after the wet-bulbing process occurs.

SUNDAY: After some low clouds and areas of drizzle to start--especially east into the higher terrain--gradually turning partly cloudy and warmer in the afternoon. High: 63.

  • By dawn tomorrow, the upper-level low will have shifted east into Virginia. While the deeper moisture and forcing for ascent (lift) will have gone with it--short-range guidance does show a west-northwesterly, upslope wind and plenty of low-level moisture in it's wake over West Virginia. Due to this, cannot rule out some areas of drizzle to start the day. As always, this is most likely to occur across the higher terrain east into the mountains--where it's easier for the moisture to get 'squeezed' out. Otherwise, I expect the stratus clouds to become increasingly thinner in a west to east-fashion as the morning and afternoon goes on. Model guidance is insistent on showing low clouds hang on for much of the day across our region--and if this occurs, then daytime high's reaching the lower 60s could simply be too high--but I see this persistent cloud-cover as being unlikely given the shallow nature of the remaining moisture and the limited amount of cool-air advection in the wake of the upper-low. A high-pressure over Louisville makes me worry a little bit about a subsidence inversion, but I don't see any clear-cut temperature inversions at this point, thus I think clouds will begin to break down quickly by the afternoon--first across western counties before gradually reaching the Kanawha Valley.
  • Overnight Sunday into Monday Morning: As the high-pressure moves overhead, which will allow for drier air, clearing skies and little, if any, wind--expecting some areas of fog to develop for the Monday morning commute. Dewpoints falling into the upper 30s to lower 40s suggest overnight low's in that general ballpark, so a bit chillier.

PRESIDENT'S DAY MONDAY: After a chilly start with some areas of fog, mostly sunny and unseasonably warm in the afternoon. High: 68.

  • After some areas of fog and low stratus early on due to favorable radiational cooling conditions the night prior, expecting a nice day in the afternoon! How fast does this fog and low clouds 'burn-off' may be a tricky question to answer, however; guidance does show a slight temperature inversion early on, which could delay the removal of this fog/low clouds a bit. Most of us, though, especially from Charleston and southeast, should see clearing conditions pretty quickly! As for the PM, While models show the surface low over the Northeast--not exactly the most favorable spot for rapid warming in the afternoon--our winds, though light, do appear to be backed out of the southeast in the afternoon. This light downsloping flow--along with a mostly dry atmospheric column to support plenty of sunshine--should catapult our numbers into the mid to upper 60s! Some high, wispy, cirrus clouds may spill over a developing upper-air ridge in the Ohio Valley--but that looks to be about it!

TUESDAY: Partly cloudy and warm with a slight breeze. Scattered showers and possibly even a thunderstorm late--especially across western counties. High: 70.

  • Looks to be a warm afternoon here, as an area of high-pressure--with it's clockwise flow--moves off the Mid-Atlantic Coast. This will cause our winds to pick up a little bit in the afternoon from the south; this is a downsloping flow and tends to warm-up faster than models indicate. This especially looks true since the deeper moisture and the best upper-level energy along, and out ahead of, a weakening front doesn't near our western counties until evening-time. Ultimately, this means more filtered sunshine at times--which should give us a good nudge to around 70 degrees! By dinnertime, or thereafter, deeper moisture, some forcing and perhaps even some elevated instability will try to kickoff a broken band of showers and possibly a thunderstorm across parts of southern Ohio and eastern Kentucky. The speed of this front/moisture return may actually trend slower in upcoming outlooks, though, as the parent low-pressure weakens some and gets further away from this activity; that's usually a recipe for a slower timing. All told--this looks to be a pretty good day, too!

WEDNESDAY: After some rain showers early on, gradually turning partly sunny and warm in the afternoon. High: 69.

  • The surface front looks to turn very murky/disorganized here--so not real confident on rain chances at this point. Nonetheless, the latest NAM model does show a few shortwaves moving overhead in the west-northwesterly flow aloft--and with deep moisture, too--feel that rain showers are likely early on. It will be mild regardless, though--as our region will be in the 'warm-sector' of this front that was once attached to a low-pressure tracking across Canada. As the H5 trough axis moves towards our east in the afternoon--the moisture should turn increasingly shallower; therefore, I'm expecting a few peeks of sunshine to break out later in the day in a west to east-fashion. Upper 60s for high's may be pretty aggressive--but 925mb temps of 13-14C, along with a slight WSW breeze, suggests that this is certainly possible.

THURSDAY: Mostly cloudy, unseasonably warm and even a bit humid. Scattered showers and thunderstorms possible at times. High: 68.

  • Models, especially the ECMWF (European), suggest a low-pressure tracking from northern Michigan to Maine here. This storm-track should cause the leftover boundary to sort of fall parallel to us--near the I-70 Corridor--during the afternoon and evening. South of this boundary, over West Virginia, a broad southerly flow should transport warmth and humidity into our area--which may actually cause our atmosphere to turn unstable, or suitable for thunderstorms. This especially could be true if another low can form back in Missouri late in the day (shown by the ECMWF model). If this solution verifies, I see a nice overlapping of deep moisture, instability and pieces of energy in the upper-atmosphere tracking along and near this warm-frontal zone; ultimately, this could be mean bouts of showers and thunderstorms at times. Kinematically, there should be some directional wind-shear along and south of this boundary, too, which could allow for a strong to severe thunderstorm chance. Exact details on this are simply too far out to pinpoint, but the pattern would seem to support this possibility.

FRIDAY: After an early shower and/or thunderstorm, turning mostly sunny, very warm and windy in the afternoon. High: 77.

  • Welcome to May! I don't feel bad at all for going aggressive with upper 70 temps here, as the synoptic, or large-scale, pattern strongly suggests this possibility. Both the GFS and ECMWF show a deepening cyclone tracking from Illinois into Michigan here--which could potentially be an ominous sign for Severe Weather issues across parts of the Ohio Valley and the Midwest region. That point aside, I think record-breaking warmth is likely--as a gusty, south-southwesterly wind should develop over West Virginia out ahead of this strengthening low-pressure system. Early in the day, a shower and/or thunderstorm may occur along the retreating warm-front--mostly across northern counties--but thereafter, welcome to the warm-sector! The speed of a strong cold-front developing towards our west will ultimately have the final say on how much sunshine we could see--but based on the guidance I see now, the atmospheric moisture shouldn't be deep enough to keep us from seeing at least some. Any insolation, given a strong downsloping flow, makes me think upper 70 temps are likely--and who knows, maybe even trending closer to 80 degrees!? Can't rule that out. It will turn a bit humid, too, as dewpoints should rise into the upper 50s to around 60 degrees--more like April. With a strong low-level jet nosing into the region late, along with steepening low-level lapse rates, wind gusts should be in the 30-40 MPH range at times--windy! We'll watch for Severe Thunderstorms by evening and overnight--depending upon the speed of the front--as there does appear to be a nice overlapping of wind-shear and some instability due to an intensifying parent low-pressure in the Great Lakes.

SATURDAY: After a warm start with scattered showers and possibly even a thunderstorm, turning partly cloudy and windy with falling temperatures in the afternoon. High: 65.

  • All about the EXACT timing of the front here--which is nearly impossible to pinpoint at this time. Regardless, this looks to be a rapid transition day--as both the GFS and ECMWF show a strong front whipping through. If it whips through sooner, then this 65 will occur around 1 to 2 AM before plunging into the 40s. If it occurs later, then most of this day will be in the 60s. At this point, feel that the front will rapidly move through overnight Friday into early Saturday morning, so the high temperature of 65 should occur after Midnight Friday. A band of showers and thunderstorms--a few of which could possibly be strong to severe given the kinematics--may cross in the early morning hours. Behind this front, the 60s will eventually become the 40s later in the day with strong, gusty winds. In fact, if there's enough post-frontal moisture--some flakes may fly across the higher terrain late in the day! Who said March had the crazy weather!?

Have a great night and take care!

WCHS Meteorologist, Brandon Stover

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