NASCAR Richmond International Raceway Weather Forecast: It Will Rain, But Do We Race?

It's not a question of "if" it will rain but a question of "when" and "for how long" for tonight's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Richmond International Raceway.

Richmond_nascar_race_day_weather_forecast_medium

The first half of the day will be partly sunny, very warm and humid with afternoon high temperatures expected to reach near 90. A strong cold front will push across Virginia during the day, bringing with it showers and storms. It is expected to arrive in Richmond from 4-8 p.m. with a line of strong storms and showers. This is obviously a problem, because the NASCAR race is scheduled for 7:44 p.m. EDT.

In my previous weather forecast on Friday, I gave racing tonight a 10 percent likelihood. But based on new information, I'm going to increase the likelihood of NASCAR racing tonight to 30-40 percent. Although the chance are still low, there are a couple of scenarios that could allow for racing.

If the storms arrive early enough – say between 4-7 p.m – and there are a narrow line of showers and storms that move through quickly, NASCAR and Richmond International Speedway could dry the track in about 60 minutes and be racing by 8 p.m. or 9 p.m. ET. This is the best case scenario, but I am still convinced that it will be raining when NASCAR was planning to drop the green flag for the Federated Auto Parts 400.

Radar_forecast_rir_medium

The image above is just one of the computer models I like to look at when putting together a forecast. This is from Friday night for 8 p.m. tonight. I've marked Richmond on the map and as you can see, it has the main line of storms to the east of Richmond and the track, but lighter more scattered showers remain behind around the city of Richmond

Radar_forecast_rir_01_medium

Here is another model for the same time 8 p.m. tonight. Both of these models have been consistent keeping rain near or over Richmond around the time the race is scheduled to start.

Satslightrisk02_medium

As if the worry of rain delaying or even postponing Saturday's NASCAR race wasn't enough, the Storm Prediction Center continues to have Richmond International Speedway as a slight risk for severe weather. The main threat with the line of storms expected later in the day and evening is gusty, damaging winds. Lightning would also be a big concern with all those fans out camping and tailgating before the start of the race.

Do we race? My gut is telling me that it will be very difficult to get this race in, but it's possible. A lot has to go NASCAR's way in order for us to see racing: The rain and storms have to arrive as early as possible (between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m.) and clear out quickly, giving crews plenty of time to dry the track with no more rain to follow.

The other question is if the rain clears out and they get the track dried by 10 p.m. or 11 p.m., would NASCAR still race that late? It's a tough call, so follow me on Twitter @NASCAR_WXMAN and like me on Facebook for the latest weather updates, because things could change quickly.

If the race is postponed until Sunday, the weather forecast is perfect. Lots of sunshine, cooler temperatures with highs near 80 and less humidity. Although not certain, in the past if a night race was moved to the next day NASCAR typically started it around noon or 1 p.m.

Conditions in Richmond, VA: Click here for Current Weather ConditionsLook at Doppler Radar | Mobile Friendly Site | Mobile Radar

SATURDAY
4:30 p.m. EDT
Sprint Cup Series Pre-race – Possible shower or thunderstorm – temp: 84
5:30 p.m. EDT
Sprint Cup Series Pre-race – Possible shower or thunderstorm – temp: 85
6:30 p.m. EDT
Sprint Cup Series Pre-race – Possible shower or thunderstorm – temp: 84
7:30 p.m. EDT
Sprint Cup Series Race – Possible shower or thunderstorm – temp: 81
8:30 p.m. EDT
Sprint Cup Series Race – Possible shower or thunderstorm – temp: 77
9:30 p.m. EDT
Sprint Cup Series Race – Possible shower or thunderstorm – temp: 72
10:30 p.m. EDT
Sprint Cup Series Race – Mostly cloudy, Chc. showers or thunderstorm – temp: 70
11:30 p.m. EDT
Sprint Cup Series Race – Mostly cloudy, Chc. showers or thunderstorm – temp: 70
12:30 p.m. EDT
Sprint Cup Series Race – Mostly cloudy, Chc. showers or thunderstorm – temp: 68

SUNDAY
Mostly sunny, cooler and less humid – High: 80

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