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Sticky days of thunderstorm lottery this week in Southwest Virginia

Sticky days of thunderstorm lottery this week in Southwest Virginia

Distant thunderstorm

A distant thunderstorm, with its towering cumulus clouds capped by the "cirrus anvil", graces the horizon skyline of southern Roanoke County on Sunday.

As is often the case in mid-July the atmospheric pattern over the United States has ground to near-halt. Our region will be stuck in warm to hot, but not extremely hot, temperatures with uncomfortable humidity and scattered hit-or-miss thunderstorms this week.

The most intense heat dome high pressure system remains over the West, more to the Southwest rather than the Pacific Northwest, with Las Vegas setting an all-time record high of 117 this weekend and daily temperatures near 130 in Death Valley. Meanwhile, low-pressure troughiness in the central U.S. is leading to rounds of storms in the Midwest and overall pretty mild temperatures for this time year.

We'll be stuck between this trough and high pressure off the Southeast cost, which will lead to a southwest wind flow aloft bringing in Gulf of Mexico moisture. Between some disturbances shooting out of the central U.S. trough and the thick humidity lifted by daytime heating, there will periods showers and storms this week, a little more numerous at times but generally pretty scattered. You may get an inch while your neighbor down the road gets sprinkles, or vice-versa — pretty much what we expect in mid-July. 

Highs will generally be mid 80s to lower 90s at elevations below 3,000 feet, most of the Roanoke and New River valleys and areas to the south and east. Roanoke on Sunday had a high of 89 for the third consecutive day — recall that 30 of 31 days last July hit 90 or above, a record that can't be repeated this year.

By late week a cold front might make a push toward us with a bit more widespread showers and storms, but this is pretty iffy. It probably won't be much different than this week going into the weekend.

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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