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Severe threat waning for central Va., but evening could bring a few more rumbles of thunder

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Aug. 7, 2019 storm outlook

Severe weather outlook for Wednesday, as of 1 p.m. The Storm Prediction Center outlines central and eastern Virginia with a "slight" chance of severe storms – a 2 on a scale of 0 to 5 – meaning scattered severe storms in the region, with more intense ones in isolated fashion.

4:50 p.m. update

It's shaping up to be a stormy, soaking afternoon rush hour for Washington and Hampton Roads.

Not so much for Richmond.

One isolated, non-severe storm is now exiting the metro area to the east by way of Mechanicsville.

Elsewhere in central Virginia, it's calm with sunshine west of Interstate 95 and clouds to the east.

As of 4:50 p.m., the severe storms are farther east in Tidewater, and up to the north between Washington and Baltimore.

That's not headed our way, and there's nothing building in the Piedmont that would move in to Richmond over the next couple of hours.

But we may not be done with storms entirely. Isolated thundershowers could move in between sundown and midnight, but the severe weather chances are going to be much lower now that round one of activity has sapped some of the instability out of the air.

This afternoon's storms produced a smattering of tree damage reports in Petersburg, western Hanover, New Kent, Charles City, Sussex, Brunswick and Mecklenburg, according to the National Weather Service.

3:50 p.m. update

A thunderstorm is finally closing in on the Richmond area, but it's staying below severe levels at this time.

Look for heavy rain and possibly some 40 mph gusts over the next 20 to 30 minutes, which could be enough for some sporadic wind damage or excess runoff in low-lying areas.

Some strengthening can't be ruled out. The environment could allow for some localized bursts of severe wind, but widespread wind damage isn't expected.

Fortunately, the storm is moving east at 30 mph, much faster than the downpours earlier this week, so that would limit the flash flooding threat unless a new storm develops later on.

The earlier severe thunderstorm warning across Hanover County was canceled, and another severe storm in the Tri-Cities is rapidly weakening. There was one report of a tree down in Petersburg, according to the National Weather Service in Wakefield.

Elsewhere, severe storms have merged into a line from Lancaster to Southampton, moving toward Hampton Roads for their afternoon rush hour. Severe storms also continue across Northern Virginia from Warrenton to Fairfax.

3:25 p.m. update

There are now two severe storms in the metro area: one on the northern side, and one on the south.

Much of Hanover County, except Mechanicsville, is under a severe thunderstorm warning until 4 p.m. for a cell located between Short Pump and Ashland. It's moving northeast at 30 mph, and may be capable of 60 mph gusts. The warning also includes Short Pump and Glen Allen in northern Henrico County.

As of 3:25 p.m, a storm over Petersburg is threatening to bring 60 mph wind and 1-inch diameter hail as it moves northeast toward Prince George, Colonial Heights and Hopewell. A small part of southeastern Chesterfield County is included in that severe thunderstorm warning, which runs until 4 p.m. as well.

If Richmond and the closer suburbs are to see rain, it will be from a weaker thunderstorm about to move from eastern Powhatan into the Midlothian area.

3 p.m. update

So far, the day's worst weather has been north, south and east of Richmond – but not in the metro area.

There's still a line of rain and storms moving in from the west, however. Chesterfield, Richmond, Henrico and Hanover can expect it to bring rain and thunder between 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. as it continues working east.

It hasn't looked particularly strong on approach, and there have been no reports of wind damage associated with it, but there's still a chance it could turn severe over the next hour.

As of 3 p.m., the only severe storm in our area was located over West Point, and is moving northeast toward Saluda and Lancaster.

According to the National Weather Service in Wakefield, severe storms downed trees in Boydton, south of Lawrenceville, and onto U.S. Highway 460 west of Waverly.

There is also a cluster of severe storms in Northern Virginia, west of Washington.

1:55 p.m. update

A severe thunderstorm watch is in effect until 8 p.m. for most of central Virginia, including metro Richmond, along with northern and eastern portions of the state.

Over the past hour, isolated severe storms have developed across Southside Virginia and Northern Virginia. New thunderstorms are also developing to the west of Richmond, and those could turn strong or severe over the next two hours. The activity is moving to the east and northeast.

***

In a change from the sporadic, sluggish downpours we’ve seen lately, today's thunderstorms could bring more of a severe wind threat to central and eastern Virginia.

Storms could happen anytime between the early afternoon and late evening hours, but the peak chance may coincide with the afternoon rush hour or arrive shortly before it.

We could also see more than one round of storms: one in the mid-to-late afternoon, and another wave coming through later in the evening.

That activity will push from west to east across the state, then subside by the time a cold front sweeps through later in the night.

Today's storms should have a more organized look due to faster winds blowing aloft over our region. That means rain should be more widespread in central Virginia, and some locales will see it arrive with damaging 60 mph gusts. Severe hail can't be ruled out either.

Heavy rain could lead to flash flooding issues – there's a potential for an hourly rain rate of 1 to 2 inches – but today's storms could keep amounts in check by moving faster than the ones that brought us downpours earlier in the week.

Look for updates to this story later today as storms develop.

***

Monday's rain

Recent storms focused very heavy rain on western Henrico County and parts of Richmond, but left outlying spots with much lighter amounts.

On Monday, backyard observers reported 1.5 inches from Glen Allen to Tuckahoe, 2.7 inches near Forest Hill, 3.2 inches in Midlothian and 4.7 inches around Westhampton. The storm brought just a quarter of an inch to Richmond International Airport, and less than a tenth of an inch to most of Chesterfield County.

Rain was much more sparse on Tuesday.

***

Extended forecast

Storm chances will hit another lull on Thursday, then the next front could mean more rumbles of thunder for Friday. The weekend is shaping up to be excellent by August standards: sunny and dry with less heat and mugginess.

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Check Richmond.com/weather for John Boyer’s videos and forecast updates. Contact him at JBoyer@timesdispatch.com.

Meteorologist

John Boyer is the first staff meteorologist for the Richmond Times-Dispatch. He joined the RTD newsroom in November 2016. Boyer earned his degree in meteorology from North Carolina State University in Raleigh.

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John Boyer

John Boyer, the RTD's staff meteorologist

John Boyer is the first staff meteorologist for the Richmond Times-Dispatch. He joined the RTD newsroom in November 2016 after covering severe weather on television in Tulsa, Okla.

As a native of the Roanoke area, the region’s heavy snowstorms started his fascination with Virginia’s changing weather.

Boyer earned his degree in meteorology from North Carolina State University in Raleigh. He is a member of the American Meteorological Society and earned their Certified Broadcast Meteorologist seal in 2012.

Look for his stories in the RTD and on Richmond.com, along with videos and forecast updates for major weather events in our area.

Email him your story ideas and weather tips.

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