Weather! One more springlike day this week; time to start thinking about severe weather

Ready for 70 degrees on Wednesday? I hope so, because it’s gone by Thursday, when some rain comes back in the picture. Are you ready for the statewide tornado drill next month?

Sixty-nine degrees on Tuesday. Sixty-nine degrees! How about that wonderful late-January weather, eh?

Speaking of spring weather, the Virginia Department of Emergency Management has announced the scheduled date for the annual statewide tornado drill. Families, businesses, and other organizations of all sizes are encouraged to participate in the annual drill, held in 2012 on March 20th at 9:45 am. This drill will be coordinated with the National Weather Service offices serving Virginia, who will issue a special statement at the time of the drill and the Emergency Alert System will be activated.

In 2011, 51 tornadoes struck the state of Virginia, 2nd most in recorded history. Tornadoes destroyed 212 homes, and more than 1,000 homes and businesses were damaged during 2011, and tornadoes claimed 10 lives in April alone. No part of the state was immune: both Washington County in Southwest Virginia and Gloucester, along the Chesapeake Bay, recorded EF-3 tornadoes; other tornadoes impacted the Richmond and northern Virginia metropolitan areas; one person lost their life in an April tornado in Halifax County along the North Carolina border; and locations from Virginia Beach to Chincoteague to Staunton to Chilhowie all recorded tornadoes in 2011. They do not discriminate between terrain, population, or any other factors, and I hope that 2011 has shown that all Virginians need to be prepared in the event that a tornado strikes where you live.

For more information about participating in the 2012 statewide drill, including how to plan and conduct a drill, please see the Virginia Department of Emergency Management website.

Thankfully there’s no risk of severe weather in our immediate future. In fact, the only thing to worry about tomorrow is the warm weather, if you’re one to worry about that sort of thing.

Wednesday: We’ll start off the morning with temperatures near 45 at sunrise, quickly climbing to…

Seventy degrees. How about them apples, February? March is usually the month that comes in like a lamb and goes out like a lion (did I get that right?), but February is coming in with the blowtorch wide open. We’re running a full 20 degrees above the normal temperature for this time of year, but that seems to be the theme for this whole winter. We will see some increasing cloudiness thanks to a weak upper-level disturbance and associated surface cold front being propelled into the region by an area of low pressure over the Great Lakes.

Got all that? Expect to see additional clouds build in through the day tomorrow, but the good news is twofold: one – we stay dry, and two – the clouds help keep temperatures from falling too much Wednesday night, with a low near 50. Expect another day with breezy winds as well, with sustained winds between 10 and 15 mph, and some gusts in excess of 20.

Thursday: The rain we don’t get on Wednesday is rain we will get on Thursday. I expect most of the rain to be concentrated early in the morning, picking up near sunrise and resulting in some scattered showers throughout the day. Again, the clouds and precip keep temperatures relatively mild, with highs in the upper 50s. Winds will die down some on Thursday, though there may be some isolated gusts above 15 miles per hour. Any lingering showers end Thursday afternoon, clearing begins and temperatures dip back into the slighty-more-seasonable upper 30s Thursday night.

Friday: High pressure builds back into the lower Great Lakes region, funneling in some colder air beginning on Friday. Temperatures only make it into the low 50s, and dip back into the lower 30s Friday night.

What was a concern of some possible precipitation this weekend has pretty much disappeared from the longer-range models this for this weekend. There is still some question regarding this weekend; the primary focus is on that area of high pressure. If it sticks around and sets up as a blocking feature across the northern half of the US, we may see a pseudo-wedge set up, keeping us in cool, damp weather and overcast skies. The other possibility is that a piece of energy coming up from the southwestern US gets organized and brings us some precipitation by Sunday. Either way, expect temperatures around normal for this time of year (50ish during the day, mid 30s at night). I’ll touch on this weekend’s possibilities more on Friday. Enjoy your last extra-warm day!

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Weather Dan

Dan Goff is now a two-time former Richmonder, having departed the River City yet again in favor of southwest Virginia, where he is working on degrees in geography and meteorology at Virginia Tech. Have a question about the weather or weather-related phenomena?

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