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Marco flops; watching Laura as 90s return to Roanoke area with scattered storms

Marco flops; watching Laura as 90s return to Roanoke area with scattered storms

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Laura rainfall

Projected rainfall amounts from what is now Tropical Storm Laura, projected to become a hurricane over the Gulf of Mexico with a Wednesday/Thursday landfall, and its remnants inland.

None of that Fujiwhara-effect, dancing-around-each-other stuff or historical milestones about having two hurricanes/named tropical storms in the Gulf of Mexico are relevant anymore, as Marco is exiting meekly before Laura bursts onto the stage.

The shear proved too great for what was a Category 1 hurricane on Sunday, and Marco's rain shield was stripped away from its circulation center, literally left bare in the northern Gulf of Mexico, well east of its forecast track. Marco is barely hanging on to tropical storm status with 40 mph winds -- literally 1 mph over the needed speed -- and might even falter to a depression before limping ashore on this Monday evening.

But Marco's weakness could become Laura's strength. A much more well-organized system, Tropical Storm Laura is set to cross western Cuba and emerge into the Gulf of Mexico overnight. where it will find plenty of open, hot water to feed on, little disturbed at all by Marco, and an increasingly favorable upper-air pattern with less shear that will likely allow it to grow into a Category 2 or 3 hurricane before landfall in Texas or Louisiana by Thursday.

That better upper-air environment is related to growing high pressure aloft, which will bring a resurgence of midsummer heat to our region. Highs in the Roanoke area and points south and east are likely to through Thursday.  Roanoke had a record 29-day streak of 90+ high temperatures in July, but it has only reached or exceeded 90 four times 24 days deep into August, and not since August 11.

There will daily chances of storms, augmented by cold fronts to the north that will press somewhat southward, but not all the way to us. Clusters of storms in the Ohio Valley are expected to move southeastward across northern Virginia. It is possible some of these may get far enough south to affect our region, mostly along and north of I-64, but not out of the question to dig a little farther southward. Also, by Thursday, some moisture from what's left of Marco could make it into our region.

Laura's effects on our region are somewhat unclear, but the remnant circulation is likely to be curved eastward by an advancing cold front late this week. Virginia is in the cone of uncertainty 5 days out for Laura, but this marks where the center of circulation is expected to be, and it is not uncommon for the moisture to be stripped away from the old low-pressure center after landfall. It does appear likely that whatever we get of Laura will move through quickly and not dawdle and stall the way tropical systems have that have produced our worst flooding episodes, historically. We probably will see some of Laura's moisture by late-week, but still a few days to determine if that means a lot of heavy rain or just enhancement of the daily showers and storms.

Behind Laura, a cold front is likely to bring somewhat cooler and much drier air by early next week.

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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