Updated - Showers (and thunder) ahead of another cool fall weekend

Our pleasant stretch of weather comes to an end today as we make way for the showers. Umbrellas may be questionable when the winds pick up this afternoon. Fall is coming back.

Updates below (most recent 3:00pm)

Hellooo Thursday... :-)

I hope all of you made it a point to get outside these past two days, because now we've arrived at the part of the week where the weather goes down-hill again. Clouds and showers will be right at the door to start the day. Here's a look at the big picture:

HPC - Thursday Mid-day

989 millibars is a pretty decently cored system (though eventually becoming more common-place as we get deeper into fall and then winter). The light gray lines indicate lines of equal air pressure, kind of like a topographical map. There are several different elements to this system that bears discussion, as it's going to impact our area this whole weekend...

1. Potential for thunder

As this front swings through, a decent system outside of winter is always going to carry with it a threat of thunderstorms. At this point, the largest factor will be the  position of the front at the prime time of day. Here's some maps for this element of our conversation:

NAM - Thursday Morning NAM - Thursday Evening

Any storms along the front that spark up will be gradually weaken during the typical down-time of convection (the morning hours), but as the heating of the day comes along, they will re-fire. Notice how the front itself is poised along or east of I-79 by then. Therefore, the most likely spots for thunder will be out that way (or further to the east) during the second-half of the day.

NAM - Storm Energy - Thursday Evening NAM - Lifted Index - Thursday Evening

Now, it's typical that these "severe weather indicators" are weak-sauce in the fall/winter, so you would have to adjust your expectations for the kinds of numbers you're going to look for in order to evaluate the prospects for severe weather. My prediction is that the best prospects for wind-related strong thunderstorms will be east of us during the latter parts of the day-- and also an outside shot at the same thing early this very morning from whatever is gradually falling apart as it approaches from the west.

2. Gusty Winds

This system, being a relatively deep low-pressure system, is going to be able to generate more of those winds we've been seeing. The packing of those pressure lines on the aforementioned surface map is just one indicator that the wind is going up.

NAM - Wind Shear - Thursday Afternoon

This may well end up being the most important part of the forecast. This wind is going to be driving the showers (and storm energy) to the east, supplying its moisture from the south, and providing the differential shear to get gusts up. This really is a high shear environment. The only reason why this isn't likely to materialize into a strong event locally is because initially this shear is going to follow the front at first, and not catch up to the storms until later in the day when the best juice is to our east. Nevertheless, we'll all be seeing some gusts from this bad-boy, with the best opportunity for a storm to mix down the strongest winds aloft to the surface will be in our far west counties early, and our far east counties late.

Currently, the Storm Prediction Center has been following this, and this is how they describe the prospects for severe weather:

Storm Prediction Center - Severe Weather Outlook - Thursday

The main threat is indeed gusty winds mixed down from a strong thunderstorm. Most of this threat will be along the Appalachians and points east later in the day, but we'll have to keep an eye on things for the I-79 corridor straight down to Beckley if this thing slows down a little.

One silver lining (good news) is that when these showers are driven through the region, the clouds will also go with it. Points in the west later in the day will be able to get cracks of sunshine coming through-- which, in addition to the breezes, will funnel warm air in enough to finish the day well into the 60s.

3. Staying power through the weekend

This system, as is typical for ones that are this strong, will become 'cut-off' from the main jet-stream flow, and start to wander around the Great Lakes right into the weekend. The characteristics of this is most evident in our upper level maps. Here's the GFS:

GFS - Friday Morning GFS - Saturday Morning

This time around, I want you to pay no attention to the Red and blue blobs on the screen. In other times/days we can talk about that. I want you to instead follow the black lines on the map. Notice the "egg-yolk" closed circle moving very slowly across our area. This mess is still here well after today's weather front departs, so we'll be talking about occasionally turbulent bands of clouds, isolated showers, and afternoon breezes perhaps right through Saturday. This may challenge the forecast for Bridge Day down at the New River Gorge, so this is something to certainly keep an eye on. Overall, the prospects for rainfall are not going to be a big deal-- it's mainly the fall chill, the periods of overcast, and those leaves coming off the trees that will be topics of conversation. Some call this the perfect sort of fall day; others will not be as enthusiastic about the long walk across the shopping center parking lot.

That's all for now... Check back for updates, and we'll certainly take a look at this weekend's weather in more detail soon enough!

Update (3:00pm) - Our turbulent skies are producing! I've been receiving some viewer pictures of hail popping up along Corridor-G and just east of I-79.

Be careful this afternoon if traveling east of a line from Corridor-G and I-79. Gusty winds and small hail will be the main threat from this as we work our way into the prime heating hours of the day.

And another note: I love it when a good forecast comes together! :-)

Feel free to add your own storm reports and pictures in the comments section here if you like. Also, feel free to keep checking the maps below to stay on top of things.

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Regional Radar/Satellite with Warnings Tracking

Accuweather Radar

From the Storm Prediction Center (below): Click For a Larger Image

Activity Overview Storm Outlook Watches Potential Watches Storm Reports
Temperatures HD Doppler Radar Estimated Rainfall Active Warnings
Current Temperatures HD Doppler Radar Estimated Rainfall Active NWS Warnings
Click For Larger Click For Interactive Radar Click For Larger Click For Larger

Have a great day everyone!

-B

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