Weather! Up, up, and away!

Temperatures are going to go up and up over the next two days, but by the start of next week, they’re going away.

I think that’s a fairly apt description of the temperatures we’re going to see over the next four days.

A great pattern is setting up for the end of this week, with high pressure setting up over the southeast, and southwesterly flow will give us an almost summer-like setup, funneling warm air from the Gulf of Mexico and temperatures in excess of 20 degrees above the average for this time of year. Twenty degrees above average! Who can’t get excited about that?!

The National Weather Service included some interesting information with their forecast discussion this evening. While temperatures in the 70s in February may seem quite odd, from a climatological perspective, it’s quite rare to not have days above 70 in the period from the beginning of December to the end of February. On average, using data from 1949-50 through 2009-10, Richmond has seen 4.4 days above 70 in this period. If we look at only winters with a La Nina feature (just like this winter), that number increases to 6.3 days in the three-month period.

Thursday is looking great – another day of mostly clear skies, with highs in the upper 60s. Dewpoints are still quite low, and with a strong breeze we’ll have yet one more day of enhanced fire danger across the region. A statewide burn ban between midnight and 4pm took effect on Tuesday; given conditions this week, it’s wise to avoid burning entirely. Dry soil, when combined with warm and windy conditions, make for excellent conditions for brush fires to spread quickly. Lows tonight will only drop into the upper 40s – again, quite balmy for this time of year.

The heat keeps coming on Friday, where temperatures will soar even higher, peaking in the mid 70s. A mostly dry cold front will approach from the west during the afternoon and evening hours, increasing cloud cover but not a whole lot else. The front will pass overnight, as lows drop into the mid 40s. Friday’s record high is 77; we will likely come very close to tying or breaking it.

Skies clear again to start the weekend, and Saturday gives us a slightly cooler day with highs only in the mid 60s. It won’t be Friday all over again, but it will certainly be a great start to the weekend. Low temperatures will cool back to near-average for this time of year, into the low 30s. Clouds will build back in as Sunday rolls around, keeping temperatures from rising much past the mid 50s, and then drop into the low 30s again overnight.

Beyond this weekend, the pattern resets to near normal next week. These fantastic warm temperatures fade away, and we look at a chance for some much-needed rain on Tuesday. I’ll have an update Monday morning. Enjoy your weekend!

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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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