Thursday, June 16, 2011

A large wildfire in North Carolina is making Virginia's air smell smoky

Have you noticed a campfire smell in Virginia today? Our winds shifted overnight back from the south, allowing the southerly breeze to transport an air mass that has been held to our south in North Carolina all week. That air mass has been contaminated with smoke from a large wildfire burning in Dare County. The fire is in eastern North Carolina at Pains Bay, which is about 19 miles south of Manns Harbor, NC.

Lightning struck causing the wildfire to start Thursday, May 2, 2011. Since then, it has burned 45,294 acres. As of this posting, the fire is 80% contained, but is still producing prolific smoke that can reduce visibilities below a mile in that part of North Carolina along US Highways 264 and 64. The Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge is one of the threatened areas from the wildfire.

You can track this, and other fires in the U.S., by clicking here for updates.
--Meteorologist Carrie Rose

Virginia could have strong to severe storms Thursday and Friday

An approaching low pressure storm system with a history of producing severe wind and hail damage to our west is approaching the Eastern U.S. Thursday. This system is causing winds to return from the south in the Commonwealth, which is transporting low-level moisture back into the Mid-Atlantic after it was swept well to our south earlier this week from a strong cold front. This moisture will serve as fuel for scattered shower and thunderstorm development Thursday and Friday, mainly during the most unstable part of the day in the warm afternoon and early evening hours. Although this storm system is not going to produce a constant, soaking rain for the entire area (which we do need), those of you who do receive the storms could have locally heavy rainfall, damaging wind gusts and severe hail, and a lot of lightning. Those severe threats are exactly what this storm system has a history of producing. Check out all of the wind and hail reports from Wednesday into the overnight to our west and south:

The Slight Risk area for severe thunderstorms Thursday afternoon and evening covers nearly all of Virginia:

The severe threat on Friday is less certain, as there may not be as great of instability to develop for severe storms. However, the same threats of damaging winds and hail are possible tomorrow. Here is the slight risk map for Friday:

I do want to emphasize, though, that even if these storms do not strengthen enough to warrant a Severe Thunderstorm Warning, they can still produce dangerous, frequent lightning and torrential downpours that can lead to flash flooding of low-lying areas. Move indoors to safety and allow these thunderstorms to pass before resuming any outdoor activities.

You can "Like" Meteorologist Carrie Rose and Chief Meteorologist Zach Daniel on our Facebook pages to receive frequent updates on the severe weather threat today. Join the weather conversation!

Stay with CBS 6, we'll keep you ahead of the storm.
--Meteorologist Carrie Rose