WINCHESTER — Area residents should be prepared for potentially “damaging winds” and “isolated tornadoes” late this afternoon and early this evening, according to the National Weather Service.
Brandon Fling, a meteorologist with the NWS Baltimore/Washington Forecast Office in Sterling, said on Monday that numerous severe thunderstorms could hit the northern Shenandoah Valley between 4 and 11 p.m.
Winds in excess of 60 miles per hour and “quarter-sized” hail are possible, Fling said. “That’s typically when we see trees fall and break.”
The region is under “enhanced risk” for these kinds of storms when the weather becomes more hot and humid, he explained.
“Have a plan in place to take shelter if need be,” Fling said, adding that windowless rooms and basements are the safest options. “Try to stay weather-aware throughout the day.”
Commuters in particular should be careful on their afternoon and evening commutes, he said.
As of Monday afternoon, regional forecasts were calling for potentially severe weather throughout the Mid-Atlantic. Southern New Jersey, southeastern Pennsylvania, eastern West Virginia, north and central Virginia and almost all of Maryland are at “enhanced risk” of severe storms, according to the NWS Storm Predication Center.
Fling said “enhanced risk” means a three-in-five chance on the severe weather threat scale.
The Washington Post’s Capital Weather Gang reported on Monday afternoon that “the potential exists for this to be a significant severe weather event,” referring to storm patterns between West Virginia and Delaware.
Fling said the Shenandoah Valley is more susceptible to wind damage than flash flooding, though flooding is possible.
He noted that the forecast is “tricky” because eastward wind patterns could push the storm out of the area. If the weather is cloudy and raining this morning, that could limit the ability of storms to intensify. If the skies are clear in the morning, it’s more likely the region will see powerful storms in the afternoon, he said.