High wind and flood producing storms are due in town on Wednesday. Tony has some common sense precautions to take in case things go haywire.
Early Afternoon Update
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The morning tornado watch to our west produced more benefits than dangers as thunderstorms in Central Kentucky mustered just a few nuisance high water reports and lightning strikes away from our region. Those same storms draped a cloak of clouds over our skies that blocked out the sun and prevented new storms from forming. So the kids should enjoy a relatively safe day at play after school.
That first storm hurdle overcome, now we look ahead to a strong cold frontal passage tonight. That front will help to ignite a new round of thunderstorms with possible high winds and localized flooding. The chance of a night time severe weather or tornado watch is still high.
Spring Storm Day Alert
The spring thunder season settled a bit on Tuesday evening as afternoon showers cooled the air into the comfy 60s. The West Virginia Power shrugged off the pre-game rain in time to top the Hagerstown Suns on a pleasant night for baseball.
But while the short term weather improved locally, the same garden variety daytime thundershowers that passed through in the late afternoon turned into severe storms in Northern-most West Virginia. From Elkins to Harper’s Ferry, angry thunderheads unleashed a nasty concoction of blinding rains, swirling winds and ice cubes (marble to walnut sized hail). A tornado warning was even issued by my colleagues from the National Weather Service for Hardy and Hampshire Counties.
And there-in is the key to forecasting Wednesday’s storm severity. You see, the winds in the heavens above are abnormally fast (50 mile per hour or higher from 5,000 feet all the way up to 30,000 feet) and the air unseasonably chilly (0 degrees at 20,000 feet altitude). If and when the sun comes out on Wednesday, showers will quickly form in response to the heating of the day.
Trouble is those showers will then feed off the cold and windy air aloft and turn locally severe. That means we likely have an active storm day ahead on Wednesday with strong indications our region will be under a severe thunder or even tornado watch much of the day.
And even if we manage to dodge the high winds, the saturated ground is primed for a new wave of flooding.
Here are a few tips to guide you through what on paper looks like as busy a spring thunder day as we ever see here in Appalachia.
I would like school principals to revisit storm prep plans and tornado drill provisos. This precaution is warranted since there is a good chance a daytime tornado watch will be issued.
School bus drivers, be prepared for an early call in case some schools dismiss before the normal closing bell.
AT WORK, HOME
Monitor changing weather conditions as they pertain to your plans. Go about your normal routine but be flexible if a storm warning is issued.
When the kids get home, keep them playing close by, within shouting distance, since any storm warning would come fast and furious with as little as 15 minutes lead time to take cover.
Stay away from windows and off the phone during a severe thunderstorm.
IN A MOBILE HOME
Once a tornado watch is issued, I highly recommend you leave for the relative safety of a sturdier neighbor’s home or shelter. While the chances of your home being hit are miniscule, research shows one of the worst places to be during a high wind storm is in a home without a firm foundation.
With the ground so soft and water pooling in many meadows, we have a visual sign that new downpouirs could create another wave of high water.
If you live along a stream prone to flooding and especially if you had high water this past weekend, monitor water levels frequently if heavy rains redevelop. Be prepared to move to high ground if flood waters approach.
If you are driving and come across a flooded road, best to turn around rather than taking a chance. As the NWS motto says, turn around, don't drown!
I will add to this blog on Wednesday as we navigate our way through a turbulent 12 hours of thunderheads.