5-day rainfall map 082919

Rainfall projections keep virtually all of Virginia dry through Tuesday, as heavy rain from Hurricane Dorian encroaches on Florida and strong to severe storms bring another bullseye of rain to the central U.S.

UPDATE 7PM, 8/30/2019: This is going to be a spectacular Labor Day weekend for all of Virginia. It won't be sticky, afternoons will be warm to low-end hot (90ish, maybe, for Roanoke and points south and east), there will be lots of sun, almost definitely no rain (probably not even sporadic afternoon showers) and no effects at all from Hurricane Dorian. Dorian will likely be near the Florida Coast by Monday or Tuesday, but questions linger about its track after that. There is growing consensus among the forecast models that the storm will bend northeast, which could put the coast of the Southeast U.S. into the Carolinas at some risk by mid to late next week. Hopefully, this is the start of a trend the models are catching onto that will lead to a full out-to-sea ejection of Dorian with no close pass to the coast at all -- but that is NOT the forecast as of now. For our region, effects from Dorian look very unlikely. In fact, its backside rotation may augment our dryness well into next week. We'll revisit this early in the coming week. In the meantime -- enjoy your Labor Day weekend. END UPDATE


Hurricane Dorian is now the primary focus of the U.S. weather watchers, with strong potential that it makes a Florida landfall on or near Labor Day.  It is unclear how strong it will be at landfall or exactly what will happen to it afterward, but it will be a major weather story for days with much anxiety for a hurricane-prone state that will be in full-preparation mode for days to come.

The reason forecasters are focusing so heavily on a Florida landfall at this stage is largely the same reason we'll likely be dry through the Labor Day weekend into the middle of next week -- high pressure building over our heads, which will bend Dorian's track more westward than northward.

Behind a cold front, we are experiencing cool mornings and fairly warm days, starting out in the 50s this Thursday morning and rising to the mid 70s to lower 80s. Friday will be similar -- great night to start high school football season -- but we'll gradually warm into next week. The temperature scheme will generally be 80s highs/60s lows across our area over the weekend and early next week, though I wouldn't be surprised if Roanoke added a 90-degree day or two to the 52 already in the books for 2019, tied for 14th in the 107 years of official weather data for the Star City. 

My 85-degree rule -- that there is always at least the tiniest chance of a stray shower or storm when it is 85 or higher in at least part of our region -- may go into effect, but there won't be much moisture to work with. Even a 90-degree day won't feel stifling after so many hot-humid days this summer.

Likewise, there is always at least the tiniest chance that Dorian will find another track than that currently projected, but since the core of its "cone of uncertainty" is aimed at the center of the Florida Peninsula, it would take an extreme shift north or south, or some kind of currently unexpected stalling or looping or weakening, to miss Florida entirely. 

Dorian's post-landfall track remains uncertain. One possibility is it crosses the Florida Peninsula and enters the Gulf of Mexico, where it re-strengthens over extremely warm water and makes a second landfall on the northern Gulf Coast. Or it could turn more northerly over the Peninsula and head directly into the Southeast U.S. as a tropical storm/depression. 

The projected track of Dorian does pique my interest for possible local effects down the road simply because its landfall point and perpendicular angle to the Florida coast may be very similar to that of both Frances and Jeanne from 2004, which soaked us a little more than 2 weeks apart. Jeanne is remembered for the 21st century's highest flood on the Roanoke River to date, 17.82 feet (7.82 above flood stage, ranked 5th since 1901) at the Walnut Avenue gauge in Roanoke on Sept. 28, 2004, but Frances actually dumped slightly more rain on Sept. 8-9, 5.53 inches compared to Jeanne's 4.94 inches, both as measured at Roanoke's airport. Frances and to a lesser extent Ivan on Sept. 17 primed the pump for Jeanne's flooding.

But that is a very long way off, probably not till late next week if it were to affect us, and still highly uncertain at this range. If Dorian brings its heavy rains our way, we will have the advantage of starting with dry ground.

Contact Kevin Myatt at kevin.myatt@roanoke.com. Follow him on Twitter @kevinmyattwx.


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