Last night’s online Hangout discussing the 2016 Virginia storm season was a rousing success. Can that translate into Old Dominion thunder this week?
A cold air damming wedge has set up across much of Virginia today and will be reinforced by showers on Wednesday. Thus neither the NWS Blacksburg forecast discussion nor the SPC outlook for Thursday has any mention of thunder. However…
The last several runs of the GFS model have seized on the concept of a wedge boundary setting up across the Piedmont Thursday. By late afternoon the eastern edge of the wedge seems to align with the U.S. Route 29 corridor. The resulting dewpoint map looks like this at 21Z (4 pm EST) Thursday:
Checking the forecast sounding at 21Z near Altavista VA yields a CAPE of >1000 j/kg with relatively weak bulk shear, although the directional shear turns nicely from southerly surface flow to westerly winds at 500 mb.
Is this worth getting the chasing juices stirred up about? Maybe not, but if this GFS trend holds and some of the shorter range models pick up on it a trip over to Rte 29 Thursday afternoon might be justified. That’s about as far as I’m willing to travel this early in the chase season.