Rare July Derecho Risk on Thursday
As promised I traveled across the Ohio River to the Buckeye State today for a look at the storm damage from Tuesday’s sudden squall. As Photojournalist Earl Ward and I made our way toward the Fairgrounds in Proctorville, tree limbs and general debris littered the sides on state Rt. 7.
At the fairgrounds, the 4H horse stable’s tin roof had partially peeled apart as if a set of sheers had shaved the metal like a sheep at the fair. A stone’s throw away, we could make out the damage the wind had done to the Fairland Middle School’s roof. I shot a bit for my Friday 5:30 Edition piece then we headed home.
My assessment here was consistent with what I saw in Huntington. A downburst or straight line wind had done the damage not a tornado. Eyewitness reports of a funnel may well have been accurate, but it appeared an actual tornado touchdown had not occurred at the Fairgrounds since the tree limbs and wood that had been dismantled all did so in a straight line path.
While the meteorology on Tuesday was not quite favorable for tornadoes (the winds aloft were just not strong enough nor contorted at all), my gut says we are setting up for a rare July Tornado Watch on Thursday. That’s because I sense a much stronger and perhaps more contorted wind field.
Take the winds at 5,000 feet. Tuesday’s winds were a mere 20-25 miles per hour at that level. I see Thursday’s winds in the 40+ mph range. Same will be true at 10 and 20 thousand feet. Thursday’s winds will be stronger, perhaps as high as 50-60 miles per hour compared to Tuesday’s 30 miles per hour winds. That’s twice as strong and thanks to a square law in mathematics, that’s 4 times as much energy.
Now when you think wind, think energy for storm development. The more energy, the more severe a thunderstorm can become. But the coup de grace so to speak is how hot and humid the air here on terra firma will feel. I expect a 90 degree day with our highest humidity (aka dewpoint) of the season. If that combination occurs, watch out for two events to occur.
First, a round of overnight and early morning storms may create some local street flooding. Heat lightning will have flickered much of the night points east toward Charleston.
After a mid morning break in the rain pattern, things will heat up and hazy sun will make for a jungle like feel.
Then in the afternoon either several broken lines of severe thunderstorms with pockets of high winds and hail (LIKELY) will criss-cross the region into the evening or a rare derecho (POSSIBLE) will strafe the Ohio Valley. In this case, a long squall line forms to our west and marches eastward with bad intentions. Along the derecho’s path, storm damage is widespread and a handful of twisters touch down.
For this reason I ask moms and dads to be in STORM ALERT MODE all day long and keep the kids playing close by at the pool or playground as we try to nail down which areas are at the highest risk for severe weather.
So remember, during a STORM WATCH, keep the kids playing outside within shouting distance since it may well be hot and sunny. But once a STORM WARNING is issued for your area, get the kids inside. I will have more storm tips on Thursday IF THE SITUATION WARRANTS.