Weather Blog: A Topsy-Turvy 7 Days Ahead

Your 7 Day Forecast--as of Sunday night, December 11, 2016. (WCHS/WVAH)

Good Monday!

I hope you enjoyed your weekend! After being at, or below, freezing for about 60 hours--we finally broke the freezing mark late Sunday morning! High's on Friday and Saturday were only 28 degrees and 32 degrees respectively--brrr! It's not even officially winter yet! :( We climbed out of the ice box on Sunday, as a southerly wind began to develop in response to a low-pressure nearing from the west. It wasn't balmy, but the upper 40s actually felt pretty nice this afternoon with a few peeks of filtered sunshine at times. Strangely, though, the warmest part of the day actually occurred several hours after sundown--as a low-level jet, with a surge of warmer air accompany it, mixed down some to cause our surface temperatures to spike into the low to mid 50s late on Sunday evening. Warmer air moving in aloft after sundown doesn't always equate to temperatures rising at ground-level, but tonight it did. After the steady rain started, though, temperatures quickly fell into the 40s, as dry low-level air allowed for a decent amount of evaporation initially--which is a cooling process. Further north and east into the mountains, this 'wet-bulbing' was substantial enough for a little sleet and/or freezing rain to occur at the onset of precipitation--but not for the I-64 corridor. For most of us, it simply just turned into a rainy night. How does your Monday morning commute look? An Arctic blast coming later in the week? Any snow chances? Spring and Winter over the weekend? Here is your complete and detailed, seven-day forecast--highlighting this sometimes bizarre weather pattern...

MONDAY: After a rainy and gray start early on, gradually turning drier by the late-morning and afternoon with a slight breeze developing. A few peeks of sun possible late, especially west. High: 49.

  • A band of widespread rain, associated with the front, will be pushing just east of Charleston around 7-8 AM. Roads will still be wet, however, with ponding of water likely--so just use caution if traveling early. While the deeper moisture and the best lift will shift east thereafter, models show a west-northwesterly, upslope flow and plenty of low-level moisture lingering in the wake of the front. Based on this, areas of drizzle and/or a spotty shower may still persist--especially east into the mountains. Most places, however, should trend drier--but the cloud forecast isn't as straightforward. While the moisture depth looks to turn very shallow per model guidance (only some around 3 to 4 thousand feet), it does look robust--especially given a west-northwesterly flow in the wake of the front. Furthermore, temperatures aloft may want to warm faster than temperatures below as the day goes on--so a slight inversion may develop. Based on these observations, I feel that a pretty thick shield of stratocumulus clouds should stay with us for a good chunk of the day--so pretty gray. Across the higher terrain, these low clouds will essentially be fog above 3,000 feet and produce areas of drizzle. By the mid to late-afternoon, the shallow low-level moisture--thanks to some overturning due to a slight breeze--may yield a few peeks of sun amid the stratus clouds. This looks most likely from Charleston and back towards the west, where orographic lift/moistening won't be as pronounced. After a rainy start to the day--not a bad day, though, for the middle part of December.

MONDAY NIGHT: Turning partly cloudy and chilly. Low: 33.

  • There looks to be a temperature inversion here, as a high-pressure quickly scoots in from the west. A temperature inversion is when it's actually warmer up above then it is below; normally, temperatures decrease as you go up in altitude. Temperature inversions are significant because they can make the airflow stagnant and unwilling to expand outward--which is why those low clouds can hang around for a long time occasionally. The main question here is--are there low clouds to begin with? If so, then they should persist for a good chunk of the night given warmer temperatures expected around 5,000 feet than 3,000 feet. Late towards dawn, however, the NAM model shows the inversion quickly breaking down--which should also erode the stratus. Based on this, expecting skies to gradually turn partly cloudy as the night goes on. Due to this slower clearing, I went higher than MOS forecasts for overnight lows. With residual moisture on the ground from earlier rains on Monday, some patchy areas of black ice can't be ruled out late towards dawn--especially across outlying, low spots. Precipitation-wise, it looks to stay dry--as the moisture depth simply looks too shallow. Some mid to high clouds will increase at times late, but nothing underneath by then.

TUESDAY: Partly sunny and seasonable. An isolated rain and/or snow shower possible late, especially north and west of town. High: 49.

  • Should see increasing mid to high clouds to start the day, as the high-pressure from overnight Monday scoots towards the Mid-Atlantic. As it does, our winds will shift a bit more out of the south--so despite the milky look to the sky, temperatures should make a run into the upper 40s to around 50F during the afternoon. Kind of a complex synopsis otherwise, though. While guidance shows numerous upper-air disturbances quickly crossing in the fast flow aloft--which may provide some lift to induce precipitation--the amount of moisture in the lower atmosphere remains in question. Due to this, most of the day should be quiet; however, skies will be mostly cloudy to occasionally partly sunny at best given the mid to upper-level moisture overhead. By the late-afternoon and evening, though, models show a front dropping towards the Ohio River; this feature may have just enough low-level moisture, lift and cold-enough air to produce a few flakes and/or some drops. Not expecting this to be a big issue, though. By the late-evening and overnight, a NW upslope flow should produce some flurries/snow showers across the eastern, mountain counties especially. Given falling temps, a few slick spots could develop overnight.

WEDNESDAY: Partly cloudy, chilly and brisk with scattered flurries around, especially early and then again late. High: 37.

  • Behind front number one, it will be noticeably chillier here--as our winds will be more out of the west-northwest thanks to a high-pressure moving into Indiana. This upslope flow should have some flakes going across the eastern, mountain counties--and possibly even some patchy, freezing drizzle given the shallow nature of the moisture. Otherwise, this day should be mostly quiet given a lack of concentrated forcing and meager low-level moisture in place. Late in the day, models show a lobe of energy dropping down from the north in the middle to upper-atmosphere, though. This feature looks strong enough to provide some lift, but guidance continues to show marginal moisture, at best, in the lower atmosphere; therefore, it's unlikely that this fast wave in the upper-atmosphere produces any substantial flakes. By the early to mid-evening, the Arctic Front will plunge through with gusty winds and a big drop in dewpoints, or the moisture content of the air!

THURSDAY: Partly cloudy, frigid cold and breezy. Scattered flurries and snow showers around--mostly across the eastern mountains. High: 23.

  • Welcome to the freezer! Behind the arctic front, we'll start the day in the upper teens to around 20F--and when the wind blows--it may feel more like the single digits, brrr! Given the cold temperatures, a WNW upslope flow and some moisture up to around 5,000 feet--I do expect some snow showers and bands to be around, especially across the eastern mountains. Slick road conditions may especially develop there given how cold the temps will be. Otherwise, snow prospects don't look that impressive elsewhere--models don't show much in the way of deep moisture and/or lifting mechanisms. The main story--by far--will be the bitter cold. Despite some sunshine at times in the afternoon, a WNW wind--around the eastern periphery of an Arctic High in Iowa--will squash our chances for a nice recovery in the afternoon. Low 20's are likely across the lowlands--and when the wind blows--it will feel more like the single digits. As for the mountain counties--especially above 4,000 feet for places like Spruce Knob and Snowshoe--high temperatures may struggle to break Zero!
  • Make sure to have the chap stick and hand balm ready--because with dewpoints going below zero--the air will turn very, very dry. Static electricity will be running high, too!
  • Overnight low's--given dry air, little, if any, wind and mostly clear skies--should go below zero in the mountains and into the single digits across the lower elevations.

FRIDAY: Partly cloudy, cold and brisk. Some high clouds increasing as the day goes on. High: 30.

  • Thanks to an Arctic High-Pressure nearly overhead, expecting a very cold start in the single digits here--so make sure to dress in layers to start the day. Otherwise, the pattern will turn into a 'warm' air advection one as the late-morning and afternoon progresses. With the high-pressure moving into the Mid-Atlantic--and a low-pressure strengthening across the central United States--our wind will begin to turn out of the south and increase. Even with this, however, we will be hard pressed to reach the freezing mark--as our starting numbers are very low and some mid to high clouds increase as the day goes on. Any sunshine early on will be replaced with a veil of mid to high clouds for the majority of the afternoon. By the late-afternoon and evening, some 'false echoes' should begin to show up on our radar--as the Heavens above will be trying to precipitate in a broad WAA regime. How fast the lower atmosphere can moisten on Friday evening and overnight will determine how substantial the freezing rain, sleet and snow threat can become. Right now, given the very dry air initially and a slight downsloping flow in response to the developing low-pressure towards our west--it may take awhile before precipitation can get in here overnight. Let's hope! Regardless, it won't take much to cause icy roads--as the ground will be plenty cold given the frigid air from Thursday and Friday day.

SATURDAY: After a wintry mix of sleet, snow and freezing rain early on, mostly cloudy and turning milder with a breeze developing in the afternoon. Scattered showers and possibly even a thunderstorm or two later in the day. High: 59.

  • While a strong low-level jet axis, associated with the strengthening low towards our west, will allow for warmer air to rapidly move in aloft to start the day, the lower levels should remain chilly given evaporative cooling effects; this means freezing rain and sleet are likely. Even if air temperatures can climb above freezing early on, icing may still occur on area roads and sidewalks given the lack of warmth from the prior days. Once the dense, cold air finally 'mixes out' during the mid to late-morning for most, though, temperatures should rapidly jump up in response to a due south breeze developing; this wind will be the result of a deepening area of low-pressure back in the lower Ohio Valley--which should track towards the Great Lakes late. This track is favorable for us to see a warm afternoon, so feel pretty confident with temperatures rebounding into the upper 50s late--and possibly even higher further west. Dewpoints will also come up--and may spike high enough by evening to produce a slender area of instability, especially just west. Due to this, a thunderstorm or two cannot be ruled out by the late-afternoon and evening! If a surface-based thunderstorm/convective shower can develop, it will have to be watched given the very strong environmental winds aloft--favorable for supercellular updrafts; this threat appears to be low at this point, but we'll keep an eye out.
  • It doesn't look like a complete washout in the afternoon and evening, though, as the downsloping flow should give us some dry time, too, and possibly even a few peeks of sun.
  • By the late-evening and overnight, it looks like the front will slowly cross per the ECMWF model. This means--after a band of heavy rain and possibly even some thunder--temperatures will fall into the mid to upper 30s by dawn Sunday. Any remaining rain may mix with a little snow and/or sleet late.

SUNDAY: After a wintry mix of rain and snow early on, gradually turning partly cloudy, chilly and breezy. High: 34.

  • Models show the moisture-laden front slowly moving east to start the day. As it does, colder air will slowly bleed in from the west and may 'catch' the last remaining moisture. If so, then the heavier rain may mix with some snowflakes early on. Otherwise, with a high-pressure building down into the Great Lakes during the afternoon, skies may slowly break for a little bit of sun late--but a chilly day given a northwesterly breeze.

Have a great day and take care!

WCHS Meteorologist, Brandon Stover

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