Pinpoint Weather: Severe weather threat Thursday, flooding also possible
A major storm complex is developing in the southern tier states of Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia today with significant potential for tornado damage. The Deep South is in line for a major outbreak of tornadoes late today and tonight and that same complex is going to shift east Thursday. The intensity of the storms will diminish as the system moves east and our location is far enough north to reduce the intensity of the event but we are still in the line of fire so we need to be diligent with getting a plan together and preparing for an isolated tornado Thursday afternoon. As the cold front associated with this line moves closer to the coast, the storms are forecast to intensify late in the day Thursday.
What the sky is telling us is that there will be a shield of showers move through the Commonwealth late tonight that will plow the road for the main line that is expected on Thursday. The rain tonight may be heavy at times and the threat for severe weather should hold off until Thursday afternoon. The focus of the more intense storms should be to our east and south on Thursday as the storms ahead of the cold front will push through in the mid-day time frame in Virginia, but the late afternoon in North Carolina. The ingredient that may intensify the line will be the sun. If there is a break in the cloud cover ahead of the line, that will increase the instability (hot air rises) and generate more intense storms. Timing and topography are essential in the storm’s developments on Thursday. Many models keep the intense line of storms from forming in Virginia, but if we were to get an isolated tornado, it will be south of the 460 highway and over the Piedmont. Appomattox, Campbell, Charlotte, Halifax, Pittsylvania, Franklin and Henry counties have the most to be concerned about. Timing for our area will be in the middle of the afternoon, peak heating, but with a good deal of cloud cover I am only expecting upper 60s east of the Blue Ridge. This has the possibility to be a very intense event, or a near miss, but we need to plan for the worst-case scenario and hope for the best.
Once the front passes there will be a general lull overnight with some showers in the region hanging on. Friday more rain comes in from the northeast. This will be a cold rain and some indications are that we may see a wintry mix of precipitation north of the 460 line. Not a good next couple of days for sure.
Saturday and Sunday look quiet and dry with highs in the middle 50s on Saturday and the low 60s on Sunday. Warm and dry weather is expected to start off the new work week. This will be the first week of spring.
The Vernal Equinox is Saturday at 5:37 EDT as the direct rays of the sun will be over the equator. It is the beginning of the astronomical spring.