February 9, 2011 - Last Bit of Winter For A Few...

By: Mallory Brooke
By: Mallory Brooke

We'll see winter for a few more days before a taste of spring arrives, read all about it in today's blog! Also - I answer your questions about snow & severe weather for the next few months.

Good morning everyone!  A quick blurb about the next few days.

We have our next storm system setting up in the Midwest as we speak - unconfirmed amounts of 14-15" have fallen in OK & AR this morning. This storm system has power but it won't be very powerful through our area.

The SE portion of our area - I'm talking SE Augusta, E Rockingham, and extreme SE portions of Page County may see a light dusting Thursday morning...max. This is a minor event (almost a non-event) but the biggest impact will be travel in the morning. Temperatures will be in the low 20's so the possibility of icy conditions exists in those areas that see snow.

Sunny skies return quickly Thursday morning with temperatures hanging steady in the mid 30's. The warm up begins on Friday and lasts all the way through next week. Sunday & Monday will be the warmest days with highs in the 50's!

I've been receiving questions about snow & severe weather for the next month or so. I think the majority of the snow that we'll see has already fallen. We may get another minor snow event in March but this isn't a snowy winter for the Shenandoah Valley.

For those who saw Meteorologist Josh Knight's piece with AccuWeather, you heard that this year's severe weather season may be extremely active. Statistically, spring is the most active time for severe weather, followed by fall. That may seem surprising, because the Valley's severe weather season is right smack in the middle of summer.

Interesting weather comes down to temperature differences and gradients. On the most powerful cold fronts, like we've seen this winter, you'll see temperatures in the 70's ahead of the front and the 20's behind it. It's what drives weather - temperature gradients.

Well, think of temperature in the vertical. After winter, the core of the atmosphere is cold. When we receive our first big warm up in the spring, let's say 80º at the surface, there's a MASSIVE temperature different from the surface to the mid & upper layers of the atmosphere. That temperature gradient fuels severe weather outbreaks (when all other factors are there).

The same argument comes in the fall - the atmosphere starts cooling after the summer. Let's say it's the end of October now, and we have a huge warm up. Well the atmosphere has already started cooling in the mid to higher levels of the atmosphere, so that huge temperature gradient exists again, but not quite as powerful as we see in the spring.

Now - why would this spring be worse? Because the overall global temperature was colder than average. So we're looking at what we normally seeing for spring storms, and expecting the temperature gradient to be even larger, therefore a more active severe weather season.

Please ask if you have anymore questions!

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