Monday, October 31, 2011

Official first freeze of Fall in Richmond on Halloween

With clear skies overnight, light to calm winds, and drier air in place behind Saturday's nor'easter, temperatures fell Monday morning to and below freezing across nearly all of central Virginia, including Richmond. This is our first official freeze of the season, with a low temperature this Halloween Monday of 31 degrees at Richmond International Airport. Did you have Halloween chills this morning?

Here are some other cold Fall/Halloween statistics of interest:
  • Average low for October 31 is 44 degrees.
  • Record coldest low temperature for October 31 is 23 degrees (1936).
  • Trace of snow last occurred on Halloween in 2002 in the Metro.
  • Earliest snowfall on record for Richmond is October 10, 1979 (Trace).
  • Average first Fall freeze is October 30. (So we're right on track for an average this first freeze!)
Happy Halloween!
--Meteorologist Carrie Rose

Friday, October 28, 2011

Snow in Virginia before Halloween!

Snow is likely in the mountains of western Virginia from late Friday night through Saturday afternoon. After last night's cold frontal passage through the Commonwealth, a much cooler air-mass is invading the region. That will be reinforced by an approaching upper-level disturbance diving out of the Plains, pulling in another blast of even colder air. You can see the upper disturbance forecast for later today in the yellow on this map stretching from the Dakotas to Mississippi:

This upper disturbance will generate a surface low pressure system along the southeast US coast, which will track northeast past the Mid-Atlantic (bringing us rain in most of the area, but snow to the mountains) and intensify as a nor'easter for New England, bringing them their first heavy, wet snow of the season.

While this low is intensifying off our shoreline, it will pull in deeper, colder air into western Virginia. As a result, snow is likely from Friday night through Saturday afternoon in elevations 1500 feet and higher, with rain in the lower terrain. You can see the affected regions on this Winter Storm Watch map highlighted in blue:

Here is one forecast of snowfall accumulation (it's probably a little overestimated because of the wetness of this snow):

All precipitation will end in the Commonwealth from southwest to northeast by Saturday evening. With clearing skies Saturday night, temperatures area-wide will fall into the 30s, with many locations reaching the freezing mark or colder. This would be the first frost/freeze of the season across much of central Virginia on Sunday morning. If you have any plants outdoors that you want to survive this first plant-killing cold, bring them indoors or insulate them properly.
Stay with CBS6, we'll keep you ahead of the storm.
--Meteorologist Carrie Rose

Thursday, October 27, 2011

October 26 Fall foliage update

Fall colors are at high to peak levels in more than half of Virginia this week! I've noticed some brilliant shades on our trees in Richmond the past several days, and I've posted some of my pictures of Fall colors on my Facebook page. Click here to post your Fall pictures on my Wall, and I may show yours on TV!

Here's the October 26th update for Virginia:

You can get more details on Virginia's Fall foliage from the Virginia Department of Forestry by clicking here, and also from the Foliage Network of spotters here.
--Meteorologist Carrie Rose
Click here to "Like" my Facebook page.
Click here to follow me on Twitter @SouthernRedRose.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

USGS confirms another aftershock early Tuesday morning

The United States Geological Survey (USGS) confirms a 43rd aftershock early Tuesday morning, October 25th (aftershock count since the initial magnitude 5.8 earthquake on August 23, 2011). This overnight aftershock was one of the smaller ones clustered in the same region south and southwest of Louisa and Mineral.

You can click here to see the full details on every single aftershock in that region since the earthquake. Here's a map displaying the cluster of all the shaking in that region since late August:

If you felt this aftershock, we're talking about it on my Facebook page. You can click here to join the conversation, as well as for updates on any further aftershocks.
--Meteorologist Carrie Rose

Magnetic storm Monday seen in the southern U.S.

A magnetic storm from the Sun slammed into the Earth's magnetic barrier on Monday, October 24, 2011 at approximately 2PM EDT. This storm resulted from an expulsion of energy from the Sun called a Coronal Mass Ejection (CME), which interacts with the Earth's protective magnetic barrier, resulting in the aurora. In the Northern Hemisphere (where we are), this is called the "Northern Lights." However, the lights last night weren't that far North! In fact, a red aurora was spotted Monday night as far south as Virginia and even into Alabama! Here's a picture posted on our WTVR CBS 6 News Facebook Page by viewer Erica Truitt Hall.

(Photo Credit: Erica Truitt Hall, "The Aurora lights from my deck in King William.")

When the CME hit the Earth's magnetosphere (the magnetic field surrounding our planet and protecting us from the Sun's most harmful energy) Monday, it compressed parts of the field, deforming it and creating the geomagnetic storm as a result of the clash between our protective magnetic field and the slamming solar wind plasma. When these solar wind particles interact with our magnetic field, it creates stunning displays of colorful ribbons of light, usually in the polar regions. But when the Earth receives a direct blow from a strong CME, the aurora can be seen in latitudes not accustomed to seeing the Northern Lights. Many parts of North America with clear skies Monday night could see the aurora spilling south of Canada into the U.S.

For your reference, here is a vertical view to let you know where these aurora typically form:

The aurora event on Monday was photographed in more than half of the states in the U.S. You can click here to see a gallery of all pictures taken October 24, 2011 from this aurora event, including from states like Alabama and Arkansas. Also click here for more pictures posted and further updates from

The red aurora that was seen in the southern U.S. is a rare event, and scientists do not fully understand how this specific type of aurora develops. Click here to read more about the rare red aurora.

If you were able to take pictures Monday evening of the aurora in Virginia, please post them on our CBS 6 Storm Team Facebook Wall by clicking here!
--Meteorologist Carrie Rose

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Fall Foliage 10/22 Update

Winter Outlook

The National Weather Service recently released its new winter outlook. One factor that is looked at is whether we have an El Nino (warming of ocean water off the west coast of South America near the equator) or a La Nina (cooling of ocean water off the west coast of South America near the equator).

It looks like La Nina conditions will last for a period, and this affects the overall jet stream pattern. This change in the jet stream also produces certain winter weather effects in different parts of the country.

However, Virginia is in one zone where there are no consistently true climatological effects when it comes to La Nina. So, this would give the basic first glance that our winter could be on the average or normal side. For the Richmond metro area, that means about 10 inches of snow.

A lot of other factors affect how the winter turns out, such as patterns in the arctic and north Atlantic, but at this point, it is too early to tell if any particular pattern will lock into place for any period of time.

More On The October 13th Tornadoes

The National Weather Service has issued its full report on the October 13th tornadoes.

Friday, October 21, 2011

I spy a meteor shower!

If you can bear the chilly early Saturday morning temperatures in the 40s in central Virginia (and get yourself out of bed extra early in the first place!), then you could see one of the most reliable meteor showers of the year, the Orionids. Every year, the Earth in its orbit around the Sun passes through the debris left behind by Halley's Comet. At its peak early Saturday, October 22nd, you can expect to see about 15 meteors flashing across the sky per hour. Here's a sky map guide from NASA:

(A map of the morning sky on Saturday, Oct. 22nd at 5:30 a.m. local time, viewed facing southeast. Credit: NASA)

If you're in doubt, just look to the upper right of the Moon, and that should get you in the general direction of the meteors.

Stargazing tips:
  • Bring blankets and extra layers to stay warm!
  • Allow your eyes at least 15-20 minutes to adjust to the night sky to properly pick out the meteors entering the Earth's atmosphere.
  • Be patient! With a meteor rate of just 15 meteors per hour, you may go a while without seeing anything flashing across the night sky (other than airplanes).
  • Take snacks and water. You could be out there for a few hours watching the show.
  • Best viewing window will be from 1AM through Dawn Saturday, October 22.
Click here to track the meteor count live!
--Meteorologist Carrie Rose

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Fall colors are reaching peak levels in western Virginia

Fall foliage is reaching peak levels in western Virginia this week! If you want to plan a drive along I-81 or anywhere in western Virginia this weekend, now is an ideal time to go. Here's the latest Fall Foliage update for central Virginia:

Leaf drop is picking up in western Virginia, though, especially after the strong cold front swept through the region late Wednesday night leaving behind windy conditions for Thursday.

Another strong cold front will sweep through the region late next week, so I expect leaf drop to be even higher by next weekend. This is why I'm suggesting you "leaf peep" this weekend in the western half of Virginia this weekend as opposed to waiting until Halloween weekend. Colors should be looking better in central and eastern Virginia, though, by the end of October! For your reference, here's the map of average peak color dates for Virginia, which we are on track with this Fall:

Enjoy the Fall weather and colors!
--Meteorologist Carrie Rose

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Severe storms are possible Wednesday

While a potent upper storm system tracks through toward Ohio and affects the Mid-Atlantic today and tonight, strong to severe thunderstorms are possible. Threats from any severe storms that develop will include damaging straight line winds, tornadoes, and potentially some hail. Conditions will be in place this afternoon and evening that will be right for storm intensification (warm enough into the upper 70s, humid from Gulf and Atlantic moisture, with upper-level lift). The two low pressure storm systems we've been talking about merging over our region is already happening early Wednesday morning. At the upper levels, this is forming one potent closed low pressure system within a deep upper-level trough to Virginia's west. The limiting factor for severe weather, though, is much drier air rushing into the region aloft as a result of that upper trough. That is scouring out some of our moisture, which we call a "dry slot."

That upper low will track northward through Ohio and into Canada by late Thursday, with much cooler air rushing into our region behind the exiting storm system and its surface cold front. It will remain windy in central Virginia Thursday with gusts around 30-40 mph. Stay with CBS6, we'll keep you ahead of the storm.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Mid-week rain will result from merging storm systems

Two storm systems will merge over Virginia Wednesday, producing a washout in the Commonwealth that day, bringing windy conditions, and also ushering in much cooler air for the end of the week. Parts of Virginia could get their first frosts Friday and Saturday mornings! Let's talk about where the two storm systems are right now.

One is still organizing in the Gulf of Mexico just northeast of Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula. Here's the morning color-enhanced infrared satellite image of this yet unnamed system:

And for your perspective, here's a broader infrared satellite view of the Gulf of Mexico Monday morning:

An Air Force Reconnaissance Plane is scheduled to investigate this system Monday afternoon. If it is deemed organized enough with sufficient tropical cyclone characteristics, it may become a Depression or named Tropical Storm Rina (pronounced REE-nuh). You can check back for updates on the tropics using our Hurricane Tracker Tool by clicking here.

The next system to affect us will arrive from our west as a digging trough over the central U.S., enhancing the potency of the approaching (potentially tropical) low from Florida. This will bring rain and windy conditions to Virginia Wednesday and Thursday. A strong surface cold front will sweep through the Mid-Atlantic by early Thursday as the merged upper trough and low pressure system from the Gulf lift north of Virginia. Here's what the jet stream creating the digging upper trough will look like by Wednesday morning, just as it is about to merge with the southern low:

After that merged storm system lifts north of Virginia Thursday, much cooler, drier air will surge into the Mid-Atlantic for the end of the week from central Canada. This could lead to the first frost for parts of central Virginia by Friday and Saturday morning, with lows dipping into the 30s. We'll keep you posted on that frost potential through the week as the potency of this storm system becomes clearer! For your reference, the average first Fall freeze (low temperature of 32 degrees F) for Richmond is October 29th, so a frost around October 21st would not be unusual.

Stay with CBS6, we'll keep you ahead of the storm.
--Meteorologist Carrie Rose

Friday, October 14, 2011

Thursday tornado tally

Thursday's tornado damage in central Virginia will be surveyed by the National Weather Service today, and we should know the estimated wind speeds and ratings of each tornado by later Friday or this weekend. As of this morning, there are three tornadoes we know of (confirmed by multiple sightings, videos, and pictures), two of which may have produced multiple touchdowns (see T's on the Google map below).

Here's the detailed list:

Louisa County Supercell Tornado Reports:
  • 2 miles South of Boswells Tavern: roof damage to the historic 18th century vacant house.
  • Green Springs: trees down and roof damage
New Kent County Supercell Tornado Reports:
  • 1 mile North of Five Lakes Subdivision: I-64 just East of Exit 205.
  • 1 mile NNW of Browns Corner: George W. Watkins Elementary School
  • 1 mile WSW of Poplar Grove: Tallysville area
  • 1 mile North of Nance: roof damage to a home on Soldiers Rest Circle, with most of the shingles removed.
  • New Kent Airport: at 7100 Lake Shore Drive, a gazebo was destroyed, along with numerous uprooted fruit trees.
Prince William County Supercell Tornado Report:
  • 2 miles WSW of Triangle: I-95 near the Quantico exit.
For the latest updates, pictures, and videos from Thursday's tornadoes, check our homepage at

Stay with CBS6, we'll keep you ahead of the storm!
--Meteorologist Carrie Rose

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Fall colors spread east in Virginia

Fall colors are entering their prime now in the southern and central Appalachian chain! Foliage spotters are now reporting "Moderate Color" for the western Piedmont to the West Virginia-Virginia state line, with "Low Color" for the rest of Virginia:

Ideal conditions have been in place for great Fall colors. The favorable factors include: last week's stretch of cool nights and sunny afternoons, combined with previous recent rains that keep the ground moist. In addition, leaf drop remains very low in central and eastern Virginia, with most of the leaves approaching peak colors remaining on the trees right now:

(Maps provided by foliage spotters at The Foliage Network)
Virginia forest experts predict this Fall season in our region will be ideal for leaf peeping and excellent color change through the rest of October into November. We are still on track for peak colors to occur right on cue for an average Fall season in Virginia:

This weekend's dry, sunny weather will be perfect for exploring the changing colors across Virginia! Get outdoors and enjoy if you can!
--Meteorologist Carrie Rose

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Aftershock felt at 12:40PM Wednesday

A magnitude 3.0 aftershock rumbled southwest of Mineral mid-day Wednesday, the fifth largest and the 41st aftershock since the initial magnitude 5.8 earthquake on August 23, 2011. Today's aftershock occurred at 12:40 PM Wednesday, October 12. The US Geological Survey reports this aftershock was a magnitude 3.0, located six miles southwest of Mineral, Virginia. This is in the same general area as the majority of the aftershocks have been clustered. Here is a map of the aftershock's location, with the distance measured relative to downtown Richmond:

Louisa County Middle School briefly evacuated when the aftershock occurred.

As mentioned, today's aftershock is the fifth largest since the initial 5.8 earthquake. Here's the list of strongest aftershocks:

4.5 at 1:07 AM August 25
4.2 at 8:04 PM August 23
3.4 at 12:45 PM August 23
3.4 at 5:09 AM September 1
3.0 at 12:40 PM October 12

Stay with CBS 6, we'll keep you updated.
--Meteorologist Carrie Rose

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Fall Foliage Update

Fall colors are starting to show in the mountains of western Virginia, and we appear to be right on track for an average peak color season. Here's the map of when average peak colors occur in Virginia (generally speaking, the farther west or higher in elevation you are, the earlier in the season the colors peak):

But if you're planning to head west for the weekend, here's the latest Fall Foliage Report on how the colors are progressing in that part of our region:

There are some trees in central Virginia, though, that are already changing colors. I've noticed those trees that are showing color here are often trees that were damaged during Hurricane Irene. This is typical behavior for distressed trees to change color and drop their leaves a little early. By doing so, it can save the life of a tree that suffered trauma during the Spring and Summer months. During droughts, trees will behave similarly.

You can learn more about Fall in Virginia from the Department of Forestry by clicking here.

Enjoy the great leaf-peeping weather over the next week!