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Another waterlogged day, but light at the end of the tunnel by evening

Another waterlogged day, but light at the end of the tunnel by evening

Upper Level Low Satellite image

This enhanced water vapor satellite image clearly shows the location of the stalled upper-level low (center of circulation marked with an "L") to the west of Virginia (Roanoke location marked by a star). This low will continue to spin today, drawing moisture off the Atlantic Ocean into higher terrain for additional flooding, but is expected to slowly begin moving northeast by evening, bringing the almost-constant rainfall that has been occurring since Monday evening to an end over Southwest Virginia.

This annoyingly soggy week has now become a threat to life and property. Roanoke city first responders have been busy overnight with swift-water rescues and evacuating 13 homes in the Deyerle area from a potential dam collapse on a small lake. The Roanoke River is now over 14 feet, still projected to crest at 16.6, more than 6 feet above flood stage, at Roanoke's Walnut Avenue bridge, though its curve has been flattening some. The ground is fully saturated, all drainages and streams and rivers are high or already overflowing. More flooding is certain.

We need this to end.

The bad news is that there is another day of persistent rainfall on this Thursday, with potentially more intense rainfall than we've seen most of the week in some of the heavier showers. Somewhat warmer temperatures may allow more instability, with somewhat greater atmospheric lift as the upper-level low moves a little closer, so some of the 1/10 to 1/2 inch per hour rates that have dominated this week's persistent rainfall could be, at least briefly, an inch or more per hour in some spots. That is very bad news when it has already rained 3-8 inches, locally more, over much of our region. We've already seen a flash flood warning issued this morning for Floyd, Carroll counties and parts of several surrounding localities for an especially heavy burst on top of the waterlogged ground.

The good news is that the stalled upper-level low to our west is finally -- FINALLY -- going to get enough of a kick on its backside to begin moving late today. By sometime this evening or overnight, the main firehose of moisture from the Atlantic will shift northeast away from our region as the low begins pulling out in that direction. There will be lingering showers on Friday, and off and on through the Memorial Day weekend with renewed warmth and lots of available moisture to evaporate into the sky, but the constant rain and widespread multiple-inch amounts will be over.

We've got to get through this day first. But there is hope of a much less rainy period ahead.

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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