Alert Day Xtra: Why we go from 80s and storms to a cold wind, mountain snow this week

April is known for wild weather swings. Here’s a breakdown of why we’re getting one in the first week of the new month.

ROANOKE, Va. – March and April in Virginia tend to be chaotic weather months. As we gain daylight to the south, warmer air gets sent north toward us. At the same time, any drop in the jet stream will bring a punch of cold air from the north.

We sit in the middle, bouncing back and forth between seasons. We can get everything from warmth and storms to high wind and snow. In the first week of April, we get a little bit of it all.

We begin with a Weather Authority Alert Day that runs from Tuesday through midday Wednesday.

There’s enough wind shear, rising air, thunderstorm fuel and moisture in the atmosphere to set up an outbreak of severe weather to our west.

Ingredients for severe weather Tuesday

A fraction of that will trigger isolated storms Monday night and Tuesday afternoon north and east of the Roanoke Valley.

Wednesday morning, a broken line of storms will move from west to east - across our area.

Here is an estimate of what storms will look like late Tuesday through Wednesday morning.

While storms will mostly be hit-or-miss, they can pack a punch with localized wind damage and hail being the main concerns.

We saw that with one storm Easter Sunday. Thanks to Tara82 for her video of it hailing.

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Goshen VA a few minutes ago

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Tuesday’s afternoon highs will be in the 78 to 84° range.

Once the line of storms moves through Wednesday, we’ll get a gusty northwest wind that brings a drop in temperatures.

In fact, this wind will be very strong at times Thursday and Friday. Gusts of 30 to 45 mph will be common.

Wind gusts peak between 30 and 45 mph Thursday and Friday.

This will drag down some cold air and Great Lakes moisture - sufficient for snow on our western slopes Wednesday night through Saturday. Occasionally, a few flurries will fly west of the Roanoke Valley.

Snow will pile up on our western slopes later this week.

The most widespread impact, though, will be the cold. Morning lows drop into the 30s Thursday through at least Saturday.

Morning lows fall into the 30s Thursday through Saturday.

None of this is uncommon for April, but it’s still a shock to go from 80s to 30s in less than 36 hours. The average last freeze doesn’t come until the second half of the month

About the Author

Meteorologist Chris Michaels is an American Meteorological Society (AMS) Certified Broadcaster, forecasting weather conditions in southwest Virginia on WSLS 10 News from 5 a.m. to 7 a.m. weekdays on Virginia Today.

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