Spring Weather Takes Its Toll on Region

Ash Wednesday High Winds

In yet another violent weather twist, a rash of severe wind storms and tornadoes raked much of the Deep South and Ohio Valley. The result many folks are reeling after the Ash Wednesday onslaught.

Locally, a series of high wind storms swept thru on Wednesday with winds topping 50 and even 60 miles per hour. Since the weakest tornado has winds of 40-72 mph hour, it is clear that the whirlwinds that battered our region this morning had the might of a twister.

Meteorologist Marina Jurica tells me as many as 60 storm warnings were issued from 3 til 8 AM for our region. Beat calls to police barracks uncovered a lot of frazzled nerves, with scattered coverage of storm damage.

Tornado warnings pre-dawn were issued for Johnson, Rowan and Elliott Counties Kentucky. No touchdowns were confirmed though Johnson County dispatchers say the “wind kicked up a real fuzz” before sunrise.

Reports of wind damage in Greenup, Floyd, Elliott and Martin Kentucky, Scioto and Athens Ohio and Kanawha, Cabell , Wayne, Logan, Mingo, Jackson and Nicholas Counties WV seemed to show lots of trees felled and barns and partially opened sheds damaged. Most of l these structures were either open ended or fragile in nature, allowing wind to penetrate easily and hence produce what appeared to be major damage.

As always, folks reported hearing the rush of wind as it arrived, the proverbial roar of a train. That sound can just as easily be linked to a downburst straight line wind as it can a twister.

But regardless of the nature of the winds (straight line or circular, microburst or tornado), it is the speed/force of the wind not the type of motion that determines the damage. So in this case, a 50-60 mile per hour wind did the damage of a would-be small twister.

Late this Wednesday night, the winds are still shaking the rafters here at the Newschannel 3 studios in both Huntington and Charleston but gusts are down to a manageable 30 mph and will soon slacken below 20 mph overnight.

Meanwhile, interests along the mighty Ohio are prepping for a near flood stage crest late this work week. With all that water flowing down the river, tributary backwater on streams like the Big Paddy and Symmes creeks here in the Huntington-Lawrence Ohio region (and the Chickamauga Creek in Gallia and the Leading Creek in Meigs County, the Little Sandy in Greenup County and the Scioto in Ohio) can be expected as nuisance flooding remains for another day or so. By the weekend, the Ohio will be steadily falling!

By the way, blame the unseasonably warm spring in winter weather and a core of powerful high altitude winds for this meteorological mischief. Wednesday morning, temperatures started out at June levels near 60 then skyrocketed to record breaking afternoon highs in the Maylike 70s! With the winds in the heavens howling along at 50-75 miles per hour, the storms that formed in the moisture and heat rich atmosphere were easily able to siphon those winds down to ground level.

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