Yesterday morninga lot of people were commenting on facebook. I’m paraphrasing a bit but they were basically: “Where are the storms?” and “Wow the meteorologists blew it again!”. There were a few showers and storms early, but the the admittedly the first round of showers and storms was pretty brief and fairly tame. However, the second round of storms came in around midday with some force. They did produce damage. They did produce tornadoes. They were just a bit late. Here are the official damage reports from Thursday:
There was an EF-0 tornado reported in the Hickory section of Chesapeake. That happened around 1:10pm in the afternoon. Maximum winds were estimated at 80mph. Several buildings had damage.
Here is what the radar looked like during that time:Notice there was some shape to the storms over Chesapeake and Virginia Beach.
Before that there was a tornado in Irvington, VA on the Northern Neck. that was an EF-1 tornado. It did damage to a hospital, some buildings, and many trees. Maximum winds reached 90 mph on that one. Here is the radar from around that time:
There was also some damage in Sandbridge in Virginia Beach. 20 homes suffered damage. The National Weather Service will head out to this area today to see if the damage was from a tornado. I would say that it was, but we’ll get the official word from the NWS probably later today. You can see there was also some general wind damage in southeast Norfolk, northeast Chesapeake, Gwynn island in Matthews county, and also in Middlesex county. There were other general reports from the public, but these were the official reports.
We had been calling for this type of weather for days. The day before I put up this map to describe the weather setup:
There was a strong/large area of low pressure that moved up from the deep south into Ohio. This had some influence on the weather. However, a smaller (triple-point low) formed where the warm front met the cold front. This happened from the morning into the afternoon. The surface winds really picked up by the mid morning. There were a few showers and storms early. In fact there was a wide area of rain in the morning over the Outer Banks and northeast North Carolina. This temporarily disrupted the southeast flow. It may have also helped to limit the amount of severe weather in the region. Yes! Things could have been worse. We also had lots of clouds which kept the temperatures down a bit. We did still manage to get into the 70s and the humidity did increase. The instability wasn’t huge, and that helped some. Still…there were some very strong upper level winds. The wind shear (increase in speed with height) was huge. Typically you need 30 knots of speed shear to get some amount of severe weather. Yesterday it was up to 80 knots. That’s big! That helps to support storm formation and vertical winds. If the instability had been larger, then we would have probably had a tornado outbreak. There was a lot of spin in the atmosphere. The helicity was large, and I’ve been talking about that for days. These storms were also moving very fast. Some were jetting at 70mph. Finally, there was also a large dip in the jetstream. We had a jetstreak move right over the region. Some of the mid-level winds were able to make it down to the surface. So we had many wind gusts to over 50mph. That was yesterday.
Today the big area of low pressure is up in the northeast states. It is now wrapped in colder air. So there is a lot of snow from Pennsylvania down to western Virginia (blue area on map below).
Meanwhile there is a big area of high pressure building in from the west. Between these systems there is a strong difference in pressure (pressure gradient). This is forcing the winds to stay up out of the west. We’ve already had gusts to 30mph this morning. They will run at 15-20mph today with gusts up to 35mph.
The persistent westerly winds will lead to some minor tidal flooding on the sound-side of the Outer Banks. The National Weather Service is talking about a tide 1-3 ft above normal. No tidal flooding is expected in Hampton Roads today. Skies will be partly cloudy. There is still a large upper level low sitting over our heads. So there may be a couple of sprinkles late this afternoon. High temps will be in the low 60s.
By tonight the winds will decrease and skies will clear. So temperatures will drop quite a bit. We’ll be in the low 40s near the shore. There will be upper 30s to low 40s in the metro. However, some inland locations will drop to the mid 30s. There may be some patchy frost in those spots where the winds cut. So bring in the potted plants if you are in one of those typical colder areas. Then…finally we’ll have quiet weather this weekend. High temps will be near 60 tomorrow with partly cloudy skies. We’ll be mostly sunny on Sunday with highs in the upper 60s. Next week we’ll have quiet weather and highs will mostly be in the 70s. It will be great. We deserve a break!
Meteorologist: Jeremy Wheeler