Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Severe is Here!

Update (7:20EDT 3-April-14):

Not many changes from SPC in the new outlooks.  Parts of AR, MO, IL, TN, and KY are going to get hit pretty hard by thunderstorms throughout the day today and into late tonight.  Significant tornadoes (EF-2 or greater) are possible in this area and the wind damage outlook shows a 45% chance of damaging winds.   This includes the Land Between the Lakes national park in western Kentucky.  If you are in this area keep a close eye to the weather and have a plan ready.



Some of this activity might stay together long enough tonight to affect central Kentucky.  It should be in a slightly weakening phase by then, however.

The weekend is still looking pleasant with dry conditions and temperatures in the 50s.

-Shawn



Update (13:50EDT 2-April-14):

SPC just released a new outlook for Thursday and there are no changes to it from previous thinking.

Thunderstorms will be scattered about the area tomorrow and some may be strong.  Tomorrow night the cold front will approach and a squall line will move through late with wind damage and hail possible.  There is a low end threat of tornadoes in central Kentucky also.

Basically, you need to keep an eye to the sky from now until Friday noon when this mess should all begin to move out of the area.

-Shawn

Previous discussion:

I expect April as a whole to be somewhat mild as far as severe weather is concerned compared to average.  But that doesn't mean we won't see ANY severe weather.  A potent low and a stalled warm front in the Ohio Valley will bring repeated thunderstorm episodes to Kentucky from now through Friday.

One such round of storms could be a little on the frisky side as it knocks on our door tomorrow afternoon.



We'll have to keep a close eye on the weather tomorrow.  Here is the latest convective outlook from the Storm Prediction Center:



You'll notice that the brunt of this activity is expected to stay to the west and south of Lexington, KY.  Inside the hatched area is where the greatest threat will be for significant damage from thunderstorms.  Currently, the Bluegrass is in a Slight Risk of severe weather tomorrow.  This outlook will be updated this afternoon and I will post the latest map when it becomes available.

Now is the time to review your preparedness plans and get ready for the possibility of damaging weather conditions Thursday and early Friday.



-Shawn

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Spring 2014 Outlook for Kentucky

Wow.  What a Winter.  (I’m going to continue to capitalize the names of the seasons because that’s how my grade school teachers taught my generation to do it, although apparently that’s not common practice now days according to the young journalists.)  We exceeded our average snowfall for the season, our average school snow days for the season, and broke many records for cold temperatures.  Winter 2013-2014 will go down as one of the worst winters in recorded history for Kentucky.

 

We’re finally to that time of year that people love.  The trees are budding, the grass is becoming green again, and the sun’s angle of incidence is growing providing us with more daylight than darkness now.  Spring is on the horizon.  And the question is being asked: what does Spring 2014 have in store for Kentucky?

 

To begin, let’s think about the last 12 months (or perhaps a little longer) of weather here.  The eastern U.S. has been dominated by a trof which means the western U.S. has been in a ridge.  As a result, the average of our weather over the past year to year and a half has been cooler and wetter than average in the Ohio Valley.  This is why we had a very calm severe weather season last Spring.  This is why we totally avoided drought last Summer.  And it’s why the Winter we’re coming out of has been harsh.  Going into Spring 2014 there is no sign of this overall pattern across North America easing up.  The official forecast from the Climate Prediction Center shows this well.

 

 

I agree with their assessment.  I think April will be a relatively cool month as a whole, particularly in the first part of the month.  I believe we will see warm temperatures at times toward the latter part of the month but as a whole the month will end below average for temperature.  As far as precipitation, we should end up about average for April.  I believe that the severe weather season will once again be very calm in April as it has been in March due to the influx of cold air dominating the region.  So, cool and wet will be the rule.

 

Looking down the road into May and June I think business will pick up in terms of thunderstorms.  As the sun’s angle draws near the Tropic of Capricorn and the hot air across the Gulf of Mexico finally spreads northward and tries to displace the stubborn cold trof in the eastern U.S., we should see an uptick in severe thunderstorm reports.  Temperatures and precipitation during the latter half of Spring will be about average in my opinion.  So seasonably warm and seasonably wet will be the rule.  Here is the CPC outlook for the period April-June as a whole:

 

Temps

 

Precipitation

 

 

The El Nino/Southern Oscillation that can drive our weather patterns is still running neutral and is forecast to remain this way generally throughout the Spring.  Therefore I don’t feel it will really have much influence.  Eventually as we head into Summer I believe this dominating trof in the east and ridge in the west pattern will start to dissolve and some above average readings may return.  But for the next 3 months I expect us to remain cold early on and gradually work toward normal as far as temperatures go with frequent weather systems bringing rain and storms to the area…not entirely different from last year.  This should cause planting season to be delayed some for agricultural interests, but will also be good for the purposes of storing up groundwater for Summer.

 

Are we done with snow now?  Time will tell…but in past years with cold Winters we have seen a few cold snaps in April and even May and occasionally we do get snow in both months.  If it happens it’ll be very brief.  Winter 1989-1990 featured some of the coldest weather we have ever seen and if you look at Spring 1990 you will find cold snaps lasting into June!  In fact, early June 1990 had at least one morning with near frost conditions!  For those wanting nice weather…hang in there. We are headed that way…just more slowly this year than usual.

 

 

Shawn

 

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

More Ice for the Bluegrass?

There is still a lot of time for the details to be fine tuned on the Sunday night storm system.  I'm sure the media will blow the hype into overdrive soon, but remember that 5 days is a lot of waiting.  We do not know how this will pan out just yet.

Having said that, the GFS model continues to show a major ice storm for the Bluegrass counties primarily Sunday night and Monday morning.  If you take the 12Z GFS verbatim it would be pretty much a guaranteed disaster with widespread power outages and trees down.  The ECMWF does lend some agreement to this idea.  Here's the GFS from today:


More details will come as they are available.  For now I'd just file this in the back of your head...it's POSSIBLE that we're looking at a major storm early next week.

Take care,

Shawn

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Valentine's Day Snow for Kentucky!

Another weather system will come through Kentucky on Valentine’s Day.  Depending on where you are exactly, you may see rain, snow, or a mix of the two.  Let’s break it down:

 

Timing:  Precipitation may break out across central Kentucky as early as late morning, though the brunt of the system looks to come through later in the day.  The late afternoon rush may be impacted, as will evening travel in areas that see snow accumulation.

 

Amounts:  If you draw a line basically along the Bluegrass Parkway from Elizabethtown to Lexington and then along I-64 to Ashland, this will roughly be the cutoff line for accumulation with this system in my opinion.  South of this line, it appears that surface temperatures will move into the upper 30s tomorrow which will drastically cut down on accumulations.  North of this line we will have the best shot at putting more snow on the ground, with 1 to 3 inches of snow possible.  Even farther north into Ohio and Indiana amounts will be less because this looks like a compact and relatively small system that will push through.  The northern half of Kentucky is basically where the most action will be in terms of snowfall.

 

Impacts:  Travel will become dangerous in and around Louisville, Frankfort, Lexington, and Maysville by Friday evening.  This system appears to be a small one, but a strong one.  It may drop a quick 1-3 inches of snow in this area, with a few isolated spots nearing 4 inches.  In my opinion will we probably see the NWS issue a Winter Weather Advisory for this area later today.  In southern Kentucky, a rain/snow mix will likely turn to all rain during the afternoon and then end as snow late Friday night.  Little to no accumulation is expected here.

 

If you have plans to go out Valentine’s night, plan to take your time and drive slowly.  Be careful and don’t ruin your night!

 

 

 

 

 

-Shawn

Monday, February 10, 2014

How Does the Winter of 2013-2014 Stack Up So Far?

We're only about half way through February but I thought it would be neat to look at how this winter stacks up to previous winters in central Kentucky.  So for perspective, here are a few stats:

 

We're at a little over 16 inches of snow for the season so far. We need 27 inches by the end of the month to break into the top 10 winters in history. (Meteorological winter is December 1 through February 28/29). The winter of 1977-1978 is #5 on that list with 32 inches. The winter of 1917-1918 had 41.2 inches! Can we get 11 inches of snow in the next couple of weeks to crack the top 10? Sure, it's possible, but with the models predicting a more zonal flow setting up across the country with warmer temperatures coming I don't think it's looking likely.

 

The greatest amount of time spent with snow cover on the ground is 57 consecutive days ending on March 10, 1978! We are on the 8th day as of today so this winter has no hope of coming remotely close to that record.

 

As far as temperatures go...we're not even in the top 20 coldest winters.

 

The bottom line is that this winter is only slightly worse than average.

 

I will leave with this thought, however:  most winters that do feature quite a bit of cold and snow like this current one are usually followed by at least one more if not two more in consecutive years. We saw harsh winters most recently in the 1950s, 70s, and 90s, so we are due for more in the 2010s if history repeats itself. I think it would be wise for city planners to stock up on salt when October rolls around because this very well may be an indicator that the next couple of winters are going to be worse.

 

-Shawn