It was cool and wet for a while, then suddenly it seems extremely hot and dry.
What’s going on with the weather?
Don’t get used to the heat wave — it won’t stick around past the weekend. And, despite the past few days having little, if any, measurable precipitation, the extended period of overall wet weather might not be over yet for Henry County and Martinsville, according to the National Weather Service.
Daytime temperatures in the 90s are expected to linger through Saturday, with a 30 percent to 40 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms each day, the weather service’s website shows.
Temperatures have warmed this week because an upper level high pressure system shifted a low pressure system westward, resulting in less cloud cover that enables the sun to heat the atmosphere more, said Kris Mattarochia, a meteorologist at the Blacksburg weather service office.
It actually is only slightly warmer than normal. Mattarochia said daytime highs at this time of the year usually average in the mid-80s.
The “heat index” — a calculation meteorologists use to show how heat feels to the body, taking temperatures and humidity levels into account — reached 102 degrees in the Martinsville area on Tuesday, weather service data shows.
To some extent, though, “it feels warmer because we’ve been cooler than normal” in recent days while stormy weather persisted, Mattarochia said.
The weather service’s forecast on Tuesday showed chances of showers and storms daily through next Tuesday, with daytime highs not expected to get out of the 80s beginning Sunday.
Mattarochia said the Climate Prediction Center is forecasting above average rain and slightly above normal temperatures for the next several months.
Weather service data shows that as of Tuesday night, the Danville area had received slightly more than 34 inches of rain so far this year, which is a little more than 10 inches above the normal amount.
Danville’s statistics are used to analyze Southside’s climate. The weather service does not maintain separate long-term climatological data for Henry County and Martinsville.
Above-normal rainfall has “kept the region out of drought conditions that can sometimes occur in the summertime,” Mattarochia said.
But if extremely hot, dry weather lingers for a while, the ground could start losing much of that moisture, he indicated.
The only negative effect the rain has had on the region, Mattarochia said, is that some farmers have reported some crops becoming moldy.
Although he did not have further details, he said that some crops, such as grapes used in winemaking, are “fairly sensitive” to conditions that are too wet or too dry. Melanie Barrow, a local Virginia Cooperative Extension agent, could not be reached for comment.
As of Tuesday night, only .02 inches of rain had fallen locally since Saturday. That rain fell between 11 p.m. Saturday and 2 a.m. Sunday, according to the weather service’s website.