Update - Strong Storms This Morning, Easier Later

Organized clusters and lines of thunderstorms will be forming in the Ohio Valley today. We'll be monitoring this all day long as our region is also in the target zone.

Thursday Updates Here

Update (3:00am) - I don't know if this ends up being more confusing or not, but I decided to continue this blog post into Thursday, and put the Thursday updates at the top (just because that's a lot of scrolling and I prefer to give all the information right up top for today considering the strong storms that are coming). It's a busy morning.

Okay, here's the latest map from SPC regarding the situation we're in:

This bowing line of thunderstorms has indeed earned "derecho" status, and is slicing past the Columbus area on its way toward central and northern WV. I'll post the power outage maps below, but figure on seeing a good amount of them if you encounter this line. It is NOT as powerful as the June 29th derecho, but widespread reports of 40-50mph winds have been associated with this line, in addition to extremely frequent lightning. This would mean you'd have to take all the typical precautions for severe weather, but more importantly have your plan for what to do when the power goes out (for example, if you are on oxygen).

This threat is more acute for folks north of the Ohio River, and moreso north of Rt-33. It is less threatening south of I-64, but everyone should be visited by thunderstorms and breezy winds as the front pushes through as the day wears on.

Here are current power outage reports (as per AEP):

Update (9:30am) - If you have been checking back periodically to keep track of the storm watches and warnings on the tracking maps below, you'll notice a new Severe Thunderstorm Watch has been posted. This is owing to the sunshine creeping back into the day following our first run-in with storms from the overnight. There are some Warnings along this line, but they are not 'derecho-esque' at this time. The main threats from these will again be gusty winds and hail. The other threat that is on the table is for flash flooding, as several towns north of I-64 have already picked up well over 1.5" of rain today.

Folks that did not already get a good storm from the overnight should keep a sharp eye on this system. You may well have an abundance of un-tapped storm energy overhead that's ripe for the taking...

Update (12:30pm) - As said yesterday-- everyone was going to get their turn with these storms. This energy doesn't just disappear. We're still tracking the last main line across I-79 and Corridor-G, but the worst of the flooding thus far is along and just south of Rt.33. In particular the Spencer area of Roane County. Check this out:

The Roane County 911 Center has (obviously) been evacuated and incoming calls are now routed to Jackson County, WV nearby. Kanawha County is helping out by sending their Mobile Command Center up that way. In addition word is the National Guard is being called to assist this area as well. Avoid floodwarter! The National Weather Service has a saying: "Turn around, don't drown!" As of this posting, they are still conducting water rescues in that region.

All areas that typically experience poor drainage will be stressed to the max in these downpours. Fortunately these storms are progressive and improving skies come in soon after these storms depart.


Wednesday Updates Below!

Good Wednesday morning everyone.

Today's initial blog post will be brief, fully expecting to add to it during the course of the day today.

Yesterday's blog post gives a pretty-good synopsis of what's going to go on today, so check it out for an appetizer. If you noticed on that post, and compared it to my Facebook Update yesterday, the thinking of the always credible, always to-be-respected Storm Prediction Center has come into clearer focus on this particular event. I'll reproduce their image below:

The probabilities for severe weather (for risk-management types) has shot way up through the heart of the expected breeding ground, reflecting a continued expectation that the right ingredients are going to be present at the right time.

An important thing to note here is that most of our area is NOT in the highest risk area. What I want to stress from this is more than likely the storms will be generating somewhere else and then how we get involved is when they travel across and into our neck-of-the-woods. The bad news is that this can happen between this morning and Thursday morning. The good news is that we can watch it do so, track it's progress, gauge its severity, and keep folks informed along the way. Hopefully everything just whizzes by us to the north, but the above-described concern-zone indicates that this may not all happen.

Now, what storm worries will we see? Mostly it will end up being of the gusty winds and hail variety. The best shear stays north of us so far, but all options are on the table to watch today. I'll post more each time I get a free moment.

The important things for you to do: several-fold. 1) Monitor the radars on this blog or on your Mobile Web Apps-- great tools if the power goes out. Whenever you see a storm complex form in Illinois/Indiana/etc., keep an eye on it. Below you can also follow storm report icons as they come in. If you see something that starts to curl southward into our vicinity with a log of storm reports associated with it, this is a storm complex to respect. 2) Check back to the blog for updates today. The tracking maps will always be at the end of the page, with the updates just above them. 3) Please comment any/all storm reports you see, and any questions/concerns you might have. I'll try to get to all of them today (but again, it may be a busy day at the TV station too).

Update (9:30am) - Here is the latest thinking from the Storm Prediction Center regarding todays suite of severe weather threats:

SPC - Hail Threat SPC - Wind Threat SPC - Tornado Threat

I agree with this thinking. The whole region is going to be welling up with the storm sustaining energy, but the forcing/triggering/lifting mechanism remains primarily across IL/IN and far western OH between I-70 and I-90. For our purposes, as stated earlier, we'll be looking at what happens next after storms are started. The showers and storms of the early morning hours have already indicated the "highway is open" so-to-speak for rambling storms to make that right-ward flanking movement to curl southward toward our area. Note also that tornado probabilities are relatively minimal locally compared to the seriousness of the other threats. I'd take this one as a gusty-wind and hail threat more than the rest. Look for organized multicellular clusters of strong thunderstorms to move in concert with one another. We should be able to track both their path and their damage reports to get a handle on what to expect locally. But even more modest storms shouldn't be taken lightly if they make it here. We're like dry kindling with lighter fluid sprinkled on it-- no matter what size of match comes by this afternoon, something could easily blow up out of it.

Update (10:30am) - Showers are already sprouting up in the unstable environment of the Ohio Valley (they just can't help themselves). This is a good thing, because it can tap some of the available energy harmlessly and dissipate it before the 'real' storms get craking. I don't think it'll work all the way, but it is something to watch.

Let's again talk about that whole "derecho" thing for a second. I've been getting a lot of notes and messages of folks worried about this. Some media and weather outlets have been throwing out the term, though I would expect local entities are already well-cognizant of the loaded context of that term and would shy away from it. Anyway, it's safe to say that a derecho is possible with this event-- but, our experience with such storms is far from the typical.

The definition of a derecho requires an organized consistent storm complex that causes wind damage/gusts in excess of 58mph along an extended path of at least 250 miles. A squall line can qualify as a derecho with as little as a handful of wind reports (it's just the consistency on radar combined with the end-points of wind reports that matter the most).

Here's an image of the June 29th derecho of last year locally, together with a more average representation of a derecho that hit upstate New York in 1999.


Normally, a derecho is just another term for a strong and consistent squall line. Massive power outages are always the main threat with these, as they often pass by so quickly that there's no time for flooding rains or accumulating hail, etc.

So yes, we may get one here today too, but the main image in your head when that word is used is not as likely. It still could be nasty in its own right, but with those kinds of storms, we can track them upstream well before they get here. We'd have time to brace for it. So then, keep an eye on the progress of any developing pack of thunderstorms. They should organize into lines or clusters and head downstream.

Update (11:45am) - The Storm Prediction center has just issued a discussion indicating their concern in sections of northern Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio for a heightened risk of severe weather, particularly wind damage (read: derecho, etc.) They may even up the risk of tornadoes in that area to 15%, which is a considerable risk considering that risk is per 25-mile radius. I want to repeat though, that this upgrade is not specifically for our area. It has always been that we will be monitoring things upstream and then track them toward our region should the eventual result be severe weather propagating toward us, because we got the goods to keep it alive. Naturally (and hopefully) it could also miss us and bother someone else farther north instead ;-)

Update (4:00pm) - Outside of the errant spit-fire storm, it's pretty amazing that the Ohio Valley scene is as quiet as it is. I'm imagining the B-Movie actor saying, "It's quiet... too quiet". Check these maps out...

Current Storm Energy (CAPE) Current Instability (Lifted Index)

For those who do not know, the left-hand image shows "CAPE" or "convective available potential energy". The higher the number, the more juice in the atmosphere to build a powerful thunderstorm. Numbers near or above 5000 are quite unusual in our area, as we've had plenty of active severe weather days with half that value. Likewise, the numbers on the right that refer to the "lifted index" would be fine for severe weather potential at -6, let alone the -12 that is showing up in northeast Kentucky. This all goes to you show you that missing a trigger or forcing mechanism is quite a big deal. We're like a big pile of dry newspaper soaked in lighter fluid, but no flame. Like we saw this morning, an little flit of a shower blossomed quickly into a thunderstorm. Imagine what would happen if something real came about-- it would be easily sustainable, even at night. I expect these numbers to drop after sunset, but they have a long way to go before you would ever call the atmosphere 'stable'.

Update (8:30pm) - The larger storm picture has still been occurring according to plan, with the sever weather sprouting north/west of us in the target region, and then curling southeastward. Here's a current image for posterity sake that describes the pattern:

These storm cells are strong. Some of them in Illinois are taller than 10 miles high in the sky (53,000ft+)! There is a tornado watch for the northern part of WV, clipping the northern part of our forecast area. These storms need to be respected, and as such any undulating band of storms that could form farther south would be ones eyed for movement into our area. Regardless, the next part of the storm comes early tomorrow with the approach of the cold front. This will keep the threat of strong and possibly severe weather on our plate, but its potential arrival during the coolest time of the day will be a big help. I can't say the same thing for folks traveling east of I-81 toward the Mid-Atlantic coast...

Regional Radar/Satellite with Warnings Tracking

Accuweather Radar

From the Storm Prediction Center (below): Click For a Larger Image

Activity Overview Storm Outlook Watches Potential Watches Storm Reports
Temperatures HD Doppler Radar Estimated Rainfall Active Warnings
Current Temperatures HD Doppler Radar Estimated Rainfall Active NWS Warnings
Click For Larger Click For Interactive Radar Click For Larger Click For Larger

Have a great day everyone!


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