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Near-record heat wave on tap for Roanoke area this week, possibly pocked by storms

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Tuesday high temperatures

If the forecast high of 97 on this map bears out for Roanoke on Tuesday, it would eclipse the previous June 14 record high of 95 set in 1926. Blacksburg's 91 would also be close to a record of 92 set in 1954.

Sizzling high temperatures are expected this week for the Roanoke area, as a strong high pressure system often called a “heat dome” builds across much of the southern half of the nation.

Highs in the mid to upper 90s are possible for Roanoke and areas to the south and east on multiple, possibly all, days this week. Record highs for June 13 to 17, based on Roanoke weather data that begins in 1912, run in the 95 to 98 range, set in the 1920s to 1950s, so some could be equaled or exceeded. Highs reaching the lower 90s on some days could challenge records at Blacksburg, also.

A 100-degree high temperature is not out of the question this week. Roanoke has only hit 100 on one day — July 20, 2020 — since there were four 100+ highs in a 10-day period surrounding the infamous June 29, 2012, derecho that brought widespread damaging winds and power outages to our region 10 years ago this month.

Because high pressure will be centered west of Virginia, it is possible that one or more thunderstorm clusters could move in from the northwest, circulating clockwise around the high, during the week. This is sometimes referred to as a "ring of fire" pattern, with storm encircling hotter, drier air at the center of the high.

Storm clusters or squall lines moving in from the northwest during hot weather have a tendency to evoke fears of a repeat of the 2012 derecho, but most such storm clusters are not as extreme as that event.

Early indications are that areas north of our region may be most in line for windy storm clusters moving out of the Upper Midwest, Ohio Valley and Great Lakes, but it is worth keeping an eye as the week progresses for our region also.

There may also be a few more localized pop-up thunderstorms in the week’s heat and humidity. Any storm that develops in or moves through the region will have the potential to produce gusty winds and torrential rainfall, providing quick cooling from extreme heat, but with risk of lightning and wind damage in a localized area.

Anyone outdoors this week should take precautions against heat stress, including drinking plenty of liquids and frequent breaks in the shade, while also being prepared for the potential for sudden thunderstorms.

Contact Kevin Myatt at kevin.myatt@roanoke.com. 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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