Updates Below (most recent 5:00pm)
Good Sunday morning everyone.
My apologies for the infrequent blogging this past week. I was on vacation with the family in a location I was to discover had no internet access. Murphy's Law has struck again, as naturally something crazy happens weather-wise in the interim...
What I want to do is discuss what happened storm-wise (if you're still wondering), and do my best to look at the situation presently before getting into the forecast.
First and foremost, the diagnosis of the storm event is probably the easiest part of all. Quite clearly, the entire region (from Illinois to the Atlantic Ocean) was hit by what is known as a 'derecho'. This is a self-sustaining, fast-moving cluster of strong-to-severe thunderstorms that primarily cause dramatic wind damage all along their path. Often there's an arc-like look to it as it plows forward, similar to that of an ocean wave. Here's a link to some more explanation of the 'derecho' phenomenon.
Normally, all the winds in a 'derecho' would be straight-line in nature, and not contain any tornadoes, but this is not a hard-and-fast requirement. A few tornadoes have been reported in conjunction with this event, but they were primarily as intense as the larger body of winds (as to be expected). This storm was able to marshall some incredible dynamics overhead, as the heat of the day brought 100-degree air for three straight days. That is a lot of energy to tap, which made this thing out of control. Consider this: The average forward speed of this storm system was 75-mph moving from Chicago to DC (!) No wonder we had so many wind gust reports of hurricane-force winds, including 77-mph in Charleston.
|NWS - Derecho Track
(click for larger image)
|SPC - Storm Reports 6-29-12|
Obviously the above map is only preliminary, as much of WV's reports are still being assessed. Suffice it to say this type of damage may become legendary because of its extent across so much real-estate for a derecho. Unfortunately, it is going to only be magnified by the fact the heat will continue as the power slowly becomes restored.
Keep an eye to WSAZ.COM for the latest on the power restoration efforts. This link is being updated as information comes available. Some estimates unfortunately have put this at as long as a week to get things back together. At one point, about 500,000 Appalachian Power customers in WV alone were without power (70% of their customer base). The story was just as bad or worse in KY and OH, but are now slowly improving.
On To The Forecast...
The biggest cause for concern about all of this is that the heat wave is going to keep right on going. We're not expected to be in the 100-degree range like we were last week, but with the 'heat index' added into the mix it will certainly feel like it. This is a time to consider the cooling shelters that are set up around the region, and to check on the elderly. Heat waves are an insidious killer, as all common ailments and susceptibilities are magnified.
Here's a look at temperatures for the next few days...all in the 90s, through the entire week:
|GFS - Max Temps - Monday||GFS - Max Temps - Tuesday||GFS - Max Temps - Wednesday|
Though the ground will be parched in situations like this, the forecast does not leave us without thunderstorms. There will be an isolated risk of boomers with us for several days this week, and given the heat and humidity that would have to break to let that happen, I would expect more monstrous-looking thunderstorms that can still come out of this. The derecho event that we just went through however is one for the books, such that I wouldn't be expecting that kind of craziness. Here's how some models are handling it:
|WRF - Late Sunday||GFS - Late Sunday|
The storms will be difficult to pinpoint well in advance, but model indications do have them springing up here and there. I would expect heavy downpours and gusty winds to again be the main threat. The places that don't get rain will have the searing heat and humidity. No rest for the weary.\
Update (5:00pm) - The National Weather Service has issued a Severe Thunderstorm Watch for interior OH and WV counties in a line from Jackson, OH through to Charleston, WV and points north and east. This line already has a history of wind reports from 60-90mph, and up to 1" hail. This does not look to be as bad as the Friday event, but may strike some worse because of who gets targeted. Expect things to go downhill in portions of Ohio starting around 7pm, and then moving E/SE from there. High winds are again the main concern. Keep watch of the constantly updating maps below for all strong storms and alerts. Because so many folks are without power and internet, I will be posting most of my updates on facebook and twitter. (you can see where to follow me below). The hope is that many along and south of I-64 will simply get missed from this one. Regardless, now is the time to keep watch and be cautious today (and patient tomorrow).