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Daily 'thunderstorm lottery' for Roanoke region in week ahead

Daily 'thunderstorm lottery' for Roanoke region in week ahead

Sunday PM radar 060621

Spotty showers and thunderstorms developed west of Roanoke on Sunday afternoon. Speckled radar images like this one will become commonplace this week as each day offers the potential for scattered showers and thunderstorms. Most spots will get at least a little rain before the week is out -- some will get copious but short-lived downpours.

Let's play the thunderstorm lottery this week.

Sticky-stormy summer weather is settling in this week, with a moist flow off the Gulf of Mexico around high pressure to the east, lifted and condensed by daytime heating, terrain effects, mostly subtle upper-level disturbances, and outflow boundaries from previous storms. Temperatures will reach the 80s most days this week, even 90 on occasion as it did both days this weekend in Roanoke, but heating will be interrupted by clouds, showers and breezes flowing out from storms. 

Each day in the week ahead is likely to have showers and thunderstorms dotted across much of Virginia. The heavier thunderstorms will be capable of dumping 1 to 2 inches of rain in a short time, but will be localized. Outside of the bigger thunderstorms, most locations will get some showers during the week, but amounts will be much lighter.

Whether you see these storms as a positive for helping quell drought, or a negative for disrupting outdoor fun or work, it will be difficult to pinpoint any particular location very much ahead of time that will be likely to get a storm, but they will be possible each day this week. One spot will get a copious downpour with bolts, rumbles and gusts, another a few miles away just sprinkles with distant rumbling, and yet a few miles farther away, nothing of note.

What is not likely is widespread, fairly evenly distributed rain to completely roll back the early-stage to moderate drought noted over the region. We will almost certainly be considered to still be in long-term dryness come Thursday's U.S. Drought Monitor Map, based on data through Tuesday, and it's quite likely the yellow and beige colors will linger in full or in part across much of Virginia even beyond this week because of the spotty, streaky distribution of rainfall. 

We could even have the ironic situation of flash flood warnings atop widespread dryness, if heavier storms train or stall over a particular location. This is not as unusual or strange as it may sound, as enormous downpours overwhelming drainage will cause localized flooding even if the surface on the whole is dry.

The trend over time appears to be that the core of the "heat dome" will settle over the north-central U.S., leaving us east of it, possibly in near-normal or somewhat cooler-than-normal temperatures by mid-month. Potential for widespread rainfall is not in evidence at this time through mid-month.

Contact Kevin Myatt at Follow him on Twitter @kevinmyattwx.


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Since 2003, Kevin Myatt has penned the weekly Weather Journal column, and since 2006, the Weather Journal blog, which becomes particularly busy with snow. Kevin has edited a book on hurricanes and has helped lead Virginia Tech students on storm chases.

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