WV thunderstorm forecast for Memorial Day
The bulk of West Virginia has been relatively rain and storm-starved for nearly two weeks now, aside from the brief popup showers and storms occuring mainly over the mountains. Memorial Day should bring a higher chance of organized thunderstorms to the region by late afternoon, but not by much.
Moisture at the surface is plentiful today, with dewpoints in the mid-60s creating a mugginess that can be felt in the air. However, a quick check of the models reveals the support of strong upper-level winds remaning well to the north of us today. This means that convection that manages to fire on the slow-moving and weakening cold front will have difficulty becoming strong and widespread. The RUC model (a short-term model) is the most optimistic for firing storms, with the concentration centered in the Parkersburg-Clarksburg-Wheeling-Morgantown areas in northwestern West Virginia. The GFS and WRF are not as agressive in indicating storms, aside from some weak showers and/or short-lived storms firing north of Parkersburg. I think that despite the presence of the front, most of the state - particularly south of Parkersburg and west of the mountains - will have a hard time seeing even a drop of rain from this setup. The SPC does have most of the state outlooked in a small hail risk area for today, with a greater risk in central and eastern Virginia.
As far as today being an storm photography day, I think the probabilities are too low to venture out onto the road and burn gas money. I will likely stick close to home and wait for the off-chance of development within a 30 mile radius of Charleston. If a strong line of thunderstorms begins pushing south toward the Ripley area as the RUC model suggests, then I may head up I-77 to see what type of photo opportunities it offers.
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