Hmmm…the recent HRRR and RAP model runs have the cold front reaching the I-81 corridor 5-6 pm. That’s at least a couple hours earlier than the longer range models and hence is earlier than NWS Blacksburg is stating in their morning forecast discussion. The result of the 10Z HRRR run shows this simulated radar reflectivity at 7 pm:

23Z HRRR radar sim

The short range models are showing a classic high shear (~40 kts) / low CAPE (max 500 j/kg) setup for southwestern Virginia. That’s enough for a surprise or two when combined with low level shear created by the front interacting with the mountains.

Since I’m a great believer in trends I will continue to watch the next several runs of the HRRR & RAP to see what transpires. If these short range models and radar begin to resemble each other by lunchtime I’ll likely head out mid-afternoon to an initial point. I’m not really excited about the chasing potential but (a) it has been >5 months since the last chase and (b) this looks like the only potential for a March chase.

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