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Tropical Storm Fred on course for heavy rain in Roanoke area

Tropical Storm Fred on course for heavy rain in Roanoke area

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AccuWeather's Tony Laubach was on the scene in Tallahassee and throughout the Sunshine State during a tropical storm on Aug. 16, reporting back the latest conditions live.

Tropical Storm Fred has come ashore in the Florida Panhandle and its remnant circulation is expected to take a track north-northeastward along the Appalachians that will likely maximize its effects for Western Virginia.

Those effects will mainly be a continuation of the bands of rain and thunderstorms the region has seen since late Sunday, increasing in intensity and areal coverage late on Tuesday into early Wednesday. Widespread rainfall of 1 to 3 inches appears likely in and near the Roanoke and New River valleys, with some localized amounts of 4-plus inches where heavier downpours occur repeatedly.

This would be on top of rain that has already fallen, driven by moist tropical flow from the south and southeast banking against our region’s higher terrain and a stationary front.

Roanoke received 3.16 inches of rain from Sunday evening through 5 p.m. Monday, 2.79 inches of that between 7 p.m. and midnight Sunday. But amounts across the region have been streaky, with heavier rain along the Blue Ridge and into the Roanoke Valley but less in some areas to the west. Additional rain was headed northward out of North Carolina on Monday evening.

Because we have entered this dry, it will take more rain than it normally would to cause flooding, but there could be some with any 2-inch downpours in an hour or repeated downpours of that nature over the same location.

There is also some chance that winds aloft circulating around Fred may find their way to the surface either as downdrafts of locally damaging wind or rotation as isolated tornadoes within squall bands and thunderstorms that develop on Tuesday. This potential will increase if there is enough dry air pulled into Fred’s remnants for patches of sunshine between the rain bands to warm the air near the surface and increase instability.

Occurrences of tornadoes and damaging downdraft winds will probably not be widespread, and more likely south of Roanoke, especially into western North Carolina, but tropical systems sometimes deliver surprises with rotational winds inland, and this will need to be monitored.

For the most part, rain that has fallen so far has been welcome. According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, counties along the western fringe of the state and along Interstate 64 reached “moderate drought” last week with nearly all of the rest of the western half of Virginia “abnormally dry.”

The 2.79 inches that fell on Sunday at Roanoke was the most on a single calendar day since 2.84 on May 19 of last year, and the 10th heaviest single-day rainfall event since 2000.

But there can be too much of a good thing. Some areas may teeter on the brink of that with rainfall Tuesday night and Wednesday.

Following Fred’s passage, more typical summerlike weather will return, with more sunshine, high temperatures moving closer to 90, and more spotty afternoon thunderstorms.

Contact Kevin Myatt at . Follow him on Twitter .

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