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Weekend outlook: Few showers ahead, no sign of big heat

Two weather systems approach Virginia in the next few days — one from the south and one from the west. The narrow space in between the systems will hold just long enough to keep either one of them from dominating the weather over metro Richmond, but there will still be some influences.

The disturbance approaching from the south will turn eastward before fully reaching Virginia on Friday, keeping most of its rain near Virginia Beach, but its trajectory also means an occasional northeast wind will cover the state, keeping temperatures in the 60s. Clouds will also be in place for much of the day, but the chance of any significant rain reaching Richmond is low.

The system approaching from the west on Saturday will lose a lot of its momentum as it approaches from West Virginia during the morning. Some isolated small showers are expected to move through, but a consistent rain is not forecast. Even so, Saturday will feel a little bit warmer and more humid as winds turn gently from the southwest late in the day, allowing temperatures to reach the 70s.

Just before that system pushes away on Saturday evening, a few more showers or isolated thunderstorms will dot the landscape, but most of metro Richmond will miss out on them.

Wind turns from the north again on Sunday, meaning the humidity drops, and some breaks of sunshine return. The one caveat in the Sunday forecast is in the speed of the earlier system that will push through Saturday night.

There are a few indications that a secondary disturbance will develop on the southern end of the system Saturday night, riding back to the north into Virginia on Sunday morning to bring a few more showers. While that does not seem likely, it is too far in advance to rule it out entirely, so keep that in the back of your mind for the second half of the weekend.

Summer outlook

With Memorial Day around the corner, summer outlooks are making their rounds. The periodic warming of the eastern Pacific Ocean near the equator — El Niño — will likely be one of the big drivers of the weather pattern this summer.

As a general rule, the impacts of El Niño on the summer weather pattern are not as strong as they are in the winter, but this warming in the Pacific appears to be especially strong, which could make more of a difference than previous years.

Warming water in the eastern Pacific often goes with a more northward jet stream position along the West Coast, making it warmer than normal there. But the jet stream travels in waves, so this suggests its position will be farther south over the East Coast.

For Virginia, that means serious, prolonged heat waves would be more difficult to come by, with better chances for the showers and thunderstorms that dominate most of our summer precipitation.

Overall, expect a summer with temperatures that are close to normal with total rainfall that is above normal. Normal high temperatures in July reach near 90, so this still gives us plenty of chances to get in the 90s for a few days this year, but it also makes us cautiously optimistic that Virginia will stay away from a summer drought.


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