Fine fall weather will be on display for most of the Richmond Folk Festival this weekend, but be ready to deal with a little rain on Sunday.
A jacket will come in handy for the Friday evening performances, but there won't be any need for rain gear yet.
Saturday afternoon will be the warmest point of the entire weekend. Highs near 80 will be more suited to short sleeves, but a slight chill will return for the evening.
A cold front will be weakening as it approaches the area late Saturday, and most of its showers should fall apart before reaching central Virginia.
Then, the front will stall nearby on Sunday and set up a better chance for scattered light rain.
Otherwise, Sunday will be a cloudier and cooler day than Saturday.
Initially it looked like a very low chance for a sprinkle on Sunday. As of Friday's forecast update, it's looking more likely that we'll see a shower or two during the final day of the festival. Still, the steadiest rain may hold off until after the performances.
Original story posted Wednesday. Forecast updated Friday afternoon.
When: 6 to 10 p.m.
Sky: mainly clear.
Temperatures: mid 60s at sunset, falling to upper 50s.
Wind: light, from the north.
When: Noon to 9:30 p.m.
Sky: mix of sun and clouds, but likely staying dry. A light evening sprinkle can't be ruled out, but heavy, disruptive rain is unlikely.
Temperatures: mid-70s at midday rising to an afternoon high near 80 degrees, then falling into the 60s for the evening.
Wind: light, from the southwest.
When: Noon to 6 p.m.
Sky: mostly cloudy, with a moderate chance (40%) for passing showers.
Temperatures: hovering in the cool mid 60s, possibly hitting 70 if the sun can break through.
Wind: light, from the north and northeast.
Singing in the rain ... sometimes
The popular notion that festival weekends are a rain magnet doesn’t exactly hold water.
Though wet weather has been part of the annual event’s story since the National Folk Festival first arrived here in 2005, the results are a matter of luck rather than atmospheric conspiracy.
To test it out, I collected the daily observations from Richmond International Airport during each October Folk Festival weekend.
A caveat: There isn’t an official long-term weather station on Brown’s Island or the downtown area, so the measurements taken 7 miles to the east are bound to differ at times. Also, some of the rain in those daily totals would have fallen in the hours outside of the performances.
Out of the 42 festival days since 2005:
- 13 days had measurable rain (31%).
- 8 had just a trace of rain (19%).
- 21 had no rain (50%).
Hurricane Matthew was responsible for the wettest day: 3.31 inches on Oct. 8, 2016.
Compared with all October days in local weather records, this limited slice of 14 October weekends since 2005 has been just slightly wetter than what we’d expect, based on history.
Of all October days in Richmond between 1897 and 2018, 24% had measurable rain.
Our luck also comes and goes in streaks. From 2006 to 2012, only one of the 21 festival days left measurable rain at the airport. But between 2013 and 2016, nine of 12 days were partially or entirely wet.
Since Matthew’s memorable 2016 washout, the past two years gave us very light, brief brushes with rain and some leftover patches of mud, but no major downpours.
Maybe the reason we associate our fall festivals with wet weather is because tens of thousands of us are outside to notice it, and we’re more likely to recall the inclement moments.
The same could be said for the State Fair of Virginia.
This isn’t Richmond’s rainy season, however. In fact, we don’t have a rainy season. On average, our precipitation is distributed fairly evenly across the calendar.
The results vary in any given year. But if you held a three-day (or a 10-day) outdoor event in any month, odds are you’d get a similar wet/dry scorecard. And the longer something goes on, the more likely there is to be a wet streak to validate a perceived rainy jinx.
What mid-October has, that most other months lack, is reliably comfortable temperatures. So far, the average high on Folk Festival days has been 72 degrees. The hottest was 86 on Oct. 9, 2009, while the coolest high was 60 on Oct. 11, 2014.
If the Richmond Folk Festival keeps going, rain or shine, for the next 15 years, there are bound to be some inconvenient deluges and pesky bouts of drizzle tapping on the tents, but even more picturesque fall days to make up for them.