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Wednesday, February 6, 2013
By any measure, last week was an extraordinary one in Southwest Virginia weather.
Patchy ice on Monday morning. Sunny 70s on Tuesday. Heavy rain and strong winds on Wednesday. Breezy flurries with rivers flooding on Thursday. Light snow accumulations on Friday morning.
Although “Only in Virginia ...” declarations about our week of weather extremes have been popular in social media, it’s not really true that last week’s wildness was exclusive to the commonwealth.
Much of the central and eastern United States saw similar extraordinary shifts. Springlike high temperatures punched into the Great Lakes, and snowflakes fell in Tennessee the day after tornadoes swarmed.
This winter has been a protracted battle between a fast jet stream flow off the Pacific and intrusions of Arctic air.
Last week, those two air masses were ready to rumble.
More skirmishes are likely ahead.
For the next few days, we’ll see milder weather take hold. It won’t be the runaway warmth of Tuesday and Wednesday of last week, but rather a period with several days topping out in the 40s and 50s, normal to somewhat above normal for early to mid-February.
Several systems are lining up that are likely to bring rain, the first on Thursday, with much heavier rain possible by the beginning of next week.
Unlike just a few weeks ago when drought and low water levels in reservoirs were a problem , flooding is now a big concern after the area got a taste of it following last Wednesday night’s downpours .
Wintry precipitation will not be much of a concern with the next two storm systems. There may be some mountain snow showers Friday and Saturday on the back side of what will become a powerful winter storm off the coast of New England, but no widespread snow or ice situations are expected in our region at least through the middle of next week.
Around Valentine’s Day, things may start to change again, as there are indications that the Arctic air may start getting the upper hand about then.
The groundhog didn’t see his shadow and predicted an early spring, while various nationally known meteorologists are going back and forth about whether winter is over or hasn’t even really begun yet.
But I don’t think the question is whether there will be an early spring or six more weeks of winter.
The correct answer is both.
Weather Journal runs on Wednesdays.
Weather JournalBreather before next wintry system