Warm temperatures, dry air, and strong winds may make for some glorious April weather. However, we’ve also got the serious risk of wildfire over the start of this week. Don’t forget – the Squirrels come back to town on Thursday!
We’ve been the recipients of some absolutely gorgeous weather this weekend. Unfortunately, the weather won’t be quite as good to start this week, it’s still going to be really doggone good.
First, a quick programming note: The National Weather Service office in Wakefield is reporting that their Doppler radar unit is currently out of service. Technicians will be investigating the issue today. No severe weather is forecast in the near future, so thankfully there will be no impact.
Unfortunately, there are some drawbacks to our current setup. The risk for fire was high on Sunday, and will be even more enhanced today. The National Weather Service has issued a Red Flag Warning, in effect from noon until 8pm today.
…RED FLAG WARNING REMAINS IN EFFECT FROM NOON TODAY TO 8 PM EDT THIS EVENING FOR[…]MUCH OF CENTRAL VIRGINIA[…]
* TIMING…THE STRONGEST WINDS AND LOWEST RELATIVE HUMIDITY VALUES ARE GENERALLY EXPECTED BETWEEN 12 NOON AND 6 PM EDT.
* WINDS…WEST 15 TO 20 MPH WITH GUSTS UP TO 35 MPH.
* RELATIVE HUMIDITY…FALLING TO 15 TO 20 PERCENT THIS AFTERNOON.
* IMPACTS…THE FIRE DANGER SHOULD BE ELEVATED DUE TO THE GUSTY WINDS AND VERY DRY CONDITIONS. ANY FIRES THAT DEVELOP WILL LIKELY SPREAD RAPIDLY. OUTDOOR BURNING IS STRONGLY DISCOURAGED.
A RED FLAG WARNING MEANS THAT CRITICAL FIRE WEATHER CONDITIONS ARE EITHER OCCURRING NOW…OR WILL SHORTLY. A COMBINATION OF STRONG WINDS…LOW RELATIVE HUMIDITY…AND WARM TEMPERATURES WILL CREATE EXPLOSIVE FIRE GROWTH POTENTIAL.
This warning includes all of the Richmond metro, including (but not limited to) Henrico and Chesterfield Counties and the City of Richmond.
A strong area of low pressure located over the Canadian maritimes brought a weak cold front through Virginia on Sunday; we didn’t see anything more than a few extra clouds from this system, but the incredibly dry air filtering in behind the front, along with a strong pressure gradient caused by the low is kicking up winds gusting to 30+ miles per hour on Monday. This combination of low humidity and strong winds will create the potential for rapid fire growth. Any outdoor burning is strongly discouraged; fires can start from something as small as a grill or improperly-disposed cigarette. Remember that Virginia state law prohibits outdoor burning before 4:00pm between February 15 and April 30. More than 1,000 acres have burned since Friday on National Forest land in western Virginia.
Monday: As mentioned, warm, dry and windy conditions will be the order of the day. Temperatures will climb back into the low 70s, with only some scattered clouds to tarnish the blue sky. A few more clouds build in later in the day as a second, weak area of low pressure and attached cold front slide through eastern Virginia and out to sea. Temperatures dip into the mid 40s overnight.
Tuesday: Cooler air does begin to build in behind this boundary. Skies clear up again during the day, and temperatures rebound into the mid 60s. Humidity values will rebound somewhat on Tuesday, but wind gusts will again reach into the 20s and there may even be a few 30 mph gusts. The threat for fire weather won’t be as critical as Monday, but there is still an elevated risk for wildfires across the state with dry groundcover and strong wind. Temps dip into the upper 30s overnight; some rural areas may see some frost develop.
Wednesday: The cooling trend continues on Wednesday, as more cool air filters down behind Tuesday’s cold frontal passage. Winds remain breezy, with some gusts again into the 20s. Temperatures will peak in the upper 50s, and may even poke at that 60-degree barrier, but they’re still going to be a fair bit cooler than Sunday’s high of 75. Winds begin to die down Wednesday night, allowing temperatures to dip back into the mid 30s. Again, rural areas may see some frost develop overnight.
The good news is that after Thursday, temperatures start to rebound and head back to those nice, toasty 70s that gets everyone excited this time of year. Humidity levels will increase along with the temperature increase, while winds stay calm, meaning that our fire threat decreases – but certainly isn’t completely eliminated – beyond Wednesday. Dry conditions should last through next weekend.
The Flying Squirrels have their home opener Thursday evening, and I’ll be bringing the Squirrelcast(!) back later this week in time for their first game. Here’s a preview: despite the cooler temperatures, there’s going to be plenty of sunshine for their first weeklong homestand.