Strong Spring Storm in the area

Thursday, March 25, 2021  5:30 P.M.

Lots of wind, possibly strong storms

The atmosphere is certainly in a severe storms state.  Moisture rushing northward and really strong wind fields to work with.  That’s pretty much the story from the deep south to the Great Lakes region.  But, I’ll try to pin things down to more detail.

The easiest part of the forecast is the location of the worst weather.  Severe thunderstorms and tornadoes are likely over a large part of the south – eastern MS, northern half of AL and most of TN are the primary spot for damaging storms.

Next, northeast MO, southeast IA and northern IL and IN are likely to see  heavy rain and, especially, very strong winds.  These will not be thunderstorm wind gusts.  The combination of storm development and upper level winds will combine to generate sustained winds over 40 mph with gusts over 60 mph for several hours tonight.  I wouldn’t be surprised if a few reports of gusts over 70 mph are measured.

So, I guess the good news is that the worst weather conditions expected tonight will be either considerably north or south of the Ohio River.  But, what happens to that space in between?  That’s us.

The Storm Prediction Center has the western half of Kentucky and southwest corner of IN  (and others) in a Tornado Watch until Midnight.  They expect a line of strong to severe thunderstorms to develop just east of the Mississippi River during the next hour or so.  They expect intensification of the line as it sweeps eastward toward us.  Primary threat time for the Louisville area will be 9 P.M. until 11 P.M.   They say severe storms are likely and some tornadoes are expected, especially over the western third of KY and TN.

Most forecast models are downplaying this line of storms for central KY and southern IN.  We’ll have to keep an eye out to see how things evolve over the next few hours.  The models suggest the instability will remain quite low tonight.  If that is correct, we’ll see a quick-hitting line of gusty thunderstorms tonight, but no major problems.

However, a different problem could create troubles for a few hours after Midnight – strong winds!  Several  paragraphs above I mentioned the non-thunderstorm winds likely northwest of us this evening.  Well, as the surface storm center moves across Indiana this evening, the door opens for the northwesterly winds behind the system to rotate southeast into our area.  We’ll see about 4-6 hours of wind gusts above 40 mph here and probably over 50 mph over southern IN.

Note to storm watchers

We expect to see a relatively narrow line of rain/thunderstorms to cross the area during the evening.  Severe storms will likely be embedded in this line, especially to our west.  If, however, if you see any “discrete” cells of thunderstorms, WATCH OUT.  These stand-alone single cells can be very dangerous in situations like this.  The strongest tornadoes almost always are produced by these rapidly moving discrete cells.  It is not too uncommon for very intense dynamics (the strong wind fields) to overcome a weak moisture supply.  The next six hours could become very interesting.

A PREDICTION:  A Severe Thunderstorm Warning will be issued for Jefferson County KY later this evening.  (When is the last time you remember when a storm Warning has NOT been issued for Jefferson County as a line of strong thunderstorms passes through?   Yep, I can’t remember either. )

Rainy weekend – mostly at night

5 P.M.  Friday, Feb. 26, 2021

Two upper air disturbances will float over the Ohio Valley this weekend.  The weaker one we’re seeing now.  Mostly light showers will be scattered over the area this evening…ending after Midnight.  Tomorrow will be warmer with mostly cloudy skies pushing temperatures into the mid 60’s.  The second system will have more moisture and energy, heavier rains will be likely tomorrow night into Sunday morning.  Our area should expect over an inch of rain with warm temperatures tomorrow night.  Temperatures remain warm Sunday.

This time no major storm development is expected, so no major surge will move in as the rain stops, so temperatures should remain seasonably mild early next week.  The average high temperature in early March is in the lower 50’s.

I have seen the future…and it is here.  part 2

The recent ice storm disaster in Texas has been used as quite a political tool for various ideologies.  The right blames solar and wind power problems (partly correct).  The left blames fossil fuel problems (partly correct).  Many say the state-run power network was the cause (big contributor).  Still others blame climate change (probably not – ice storms in Texas have a long history).  Actually, many factors combined to make a situation far worse than it should have been.

Most at fault is the government of Texas.  To allow the statewide power grid to reach the ridiculous situation that exists there today is a wonderful example of political corruption based on money rather than the public good.  It’s a rag-rag operation of little operators with little coordination.  It’s like one of those dominoes creations where you tip over one domino and hundreds  (or thousands)  more also tip over.

In recent years, a push toward solar and wind power generation has been established.  Today that produces roughly 10-11% of Texas’s total power input.  Wind and solar are unreliable because sometimes the wind doesn’t blow and the sun doesn’t shine.  But losing just 10% of your power supply shouldn’t do much damage to the overall grid.  Most of the power comes from good old fashioned power plants using either coal, oil or natural gas.  Texas also produces some nuclear power.  In recent years, for environmental concerns, coal and oil plants have been phased out along with nuclear power.  The use of natural gas, the cleanest fossil fuel, has been growing rapidly.  Okay, most states are doing the same thing, so what went wrong?

In the push to increase natural gas usage and build wind and solar facilities, something has been either forgotten or neglected, or both.  Infrastructure!  No repairs. No updates.  No improvements to existing equipment.  The existing infrastructure has been falling apart.  In a crisis they can’t ask neighboring states to sell them some extra power (state law).  So, when a crisis hits -usually winter storms and summer heat waves – they are stuck.

The way things are going, the power situation in Texas will get far worse before it gets better.  The best thing they can do to clean up their power mess is to build nuclear power plants.

Texas is not alone in this rush to “clean energy.”  Many other states are losing their energy independence.  More on that on part 3.

Early Spring weather

Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021  4 P.M.

Weather patterns certainly have changed since last week.  Rather than ice, snow and 20’s we’ve jumped to mostly sunny and 50’s.  This trend is expected to persist for quite a while.  The circumpolar jet stream vortex that dipped south over Canada and central U.S. has retreated toward the pole and reformed westward.  The result has been a return to the “west coast trough, east coast ridge” pattern that has dominated most of our winter.

For the next few weeks (or longer), major storms will move into the western U.S. then move northeast into the central and eastern U.S.  That major storm track will bring plenty of rain to the central part of the country, including the Ohio Valley.  It also threatens to give an early (and widespread) start to the severe weather season.

I have seen the future…and it is here! (Part 1)

My apologies to whoever first uttered those words, but it seemed to fit.

The Texas ice storm has been quite a catastrophe.  The media seems so surprised by the ice storm – acting like it’s never happened before.  In fact, if anyone chose to check, a major ice storm hits Texas about once every eight years.  Ice storms are a known, expected, but rare, event.  The most recent serious ice storm was in 2011.  In fact, since 1973, six major ice storms have hit Texas.  After each one, committees were formed to make suggestions about how to better prepare for the next one.  After the first five storms, the recommendations were largely ignored.  Why? Cost.   (We’ll continue to hold together our deteriorating infrastructure with baling wire and duct tape and hope that it doesn’t happen again.)  But it always does.  I don’t imagine it’ll be any different this time.

We’ve heard many “reasons” for why the problems occurred.  Every “cause” has a different reason for the disaster.  Next time, we’ll take a look at the “blame game.”

Stuff

Recently in Washington state,  police arrested a man for carjacking. He had been released from prison just 20 minutes earlier.

Caution:  If you’re bad at haggling, you’ll end up paying the price.

Picture

Smoke billows from Mt. Etna near Giarre, Sicily. | (AP Photo/Salvatore Allegra)

From The Week

That’s it for winter, at least for awhile

Friday, Feb. 19, 2021  4 P.M.

Warming

I have found it interesting over the years how February almost always has a period of a week to 10 days of very wintry weather.  Otherwise, it’s just the usual grey skies and gloomy scenery.  Well, we just experienced our “mini-winter” and now a warm up will have us thinking of an early spring for the rest of the month.

Tomorrow will have a cold start – about 13-15 degrees – then warm to the mid 30’s.  Then about 10 degrees warmer Sunday.  Then a few days in the 50’s (possibly 60’s) next week.

Meanwhile, Tuesday’s storm dropped a sleet/snow accumulation of 4″ at the airport.  Then Wednesday night’s snowfall of 2.9″ pushed the accumulation up to 5″ at SDF.  NOTE:  Snowfall and snow accumulation are not the same. Tuesday night’s snowfall was listed as 5.5″ but the sleet/freezing rain knocked the accumulation down to 4″.  Due to some melting and settling,  the later snowfall “refreshed” the old snow/ice and boosted accumulation back up to 5″.

Snow gauge update

I’ve been showing pictures off my very optimistic snow gauge this week. You can go back to see them, if you wish.  The first showed just a trace of snow/ice before the expected snowstorm Monday night.  The second photo was from Tuesday morning.  It showed just under 3″.  You can see the 3″ marker line on the left side of the gauge.  Today’s photo is from yesterday morning.  About 5″ inches on the ground.

 

Light snow tonight

4:30 P.M., Wed. Feb.17, 2021

Heavy snow stays south and east of Louisville

The latest winter storm to come our way just can’t seem to get its act together.  Sure, there’s energy aloft and moisture available, but all the ingredients for heavy snow here are just not lining up.  Along and south of a line from Bowling Green to Lexington to Morehead, snow accumulations of 4″-6″ or more are likely.

But, we’ll be on the northern fringe of the system where the upglide (lifting motions) will be weak.  The Louisville area will get 1″-3″ of new snow.  That should break down to about 2″-3″ from Louisville into our bordering counties south and east.  Southern Indiana will have a diminishing trend from the Ohio River north and west.  Starting at about 1″-2″ near the river and dropping off to near zero 30-40 miles away from the river.

Light snow will continue tomorrow morning before fading away during the afternoon.  Little or no additional accumulation.

Stuff:

I found this little tidbit really amazing…

British mathematician Kit Yates has calculated that the estimated 2 quintillion coronavirus particles floating around the world would fit inside a single Coke can.

Meteorologists’ nightmare

Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2021  5 P.M.

Nobody likes to be wrong.  Most of us can hide mistakes so that few people, if any, know you made one.  But that doesn’t hold for operational weather forecasters.  Our mistakes are out there for everyone to see (and ridicule) while most mistakes are hidden or denied.  Yet, as a rule, meteorologists are generally well liked.  My answer to this apparent contradiction:  a meteorologist is someone who everyone can feel superior to.

While yesterday’s blown forecast was truly a whopper,  I have no excuses.  Looking back, a few clues were available, but the heavy snow seemed a far better idea.  Unfortunately, I didn’t catch on until it was too late.  Often, in times like this, you’ll hear these comments:  1) We dodged the bullet., or 2). We got lucky this time.  TRANSLATION:  I missed the forecast, but I’m not going to admit it.

Let’s try again

Another storm coming out of the southwest has the potential to be a serious snow-maker.  This time, however, we’ll be on the northern side of the heaviest snow.  Models are in pretty good agreement with this one, but nothing much will be happening until late tomorrow.  So, that gives time for adjustments.

Here’s the way it looks now:  some light snow is possible (30% chance)  tomorrow but with little or no snow accumulation.  Snow likely tomorrow night accumulating 1″-3″ by Thursday morning.  Thursday morning flurries exit area by Noon.

Stuff

Sets of “identical twins” usually do not have identical DNA genomes.  About 90% of identical twins have genome differences ranging from a few to hundreds of sequence differences.  This comes from a newly published study in Iceland.

Snow gauge photo

Not much change since Sunday:

 

Looks like the NAM wins!

3 P.M. Mon., Feb.15, 2021

The news is not good…for snow lovers.

The latest NAM is joined by the short range NRRR model in pushing the heavy snow range northwestward away from the Ohio River.  The NAM was the only model to “see” this change earlier, but now it appears to be correct.

The sleet that has been falling for the past hour or so has brought, to me at least, the belief that the NAM has been right.  If the sleet had been snow we’d probably already have had an inch or two.  Instead we have a thin layer of ice pellets.

So, my forecast of just a few hours ago isn’t going to happen.  We will get snow, but also sleet until about Midnight.  But the sleet will keep accumulations significantly lower than expected.

New forecast:

Louisville metro: 2″-4″

Southern IN:  up to 20 miles north of metro:  3″-5″

South of Louisville metro:  1″-2″ (mostly ice).

Stuff

Over the years, the NAM has disappointed me many times with its seemingly inferior snow/ice predictions.  Today, I should have paid more attention.

 

The Ohio River conundrum

 Feb. 15, 2021  1 P.M.

On the edge

It is now clear that the axis of heaviest snowfall will lie north of the Ohio.  From western KY to Evansville to Indy and on to Lake Erie will be the heaviest snow – probably a foot or more by tomorrow.

South and west of that line snow totals will diminish slowly across southern IN, then the drop off quickens from the Ohio River south and east.

As a result of this shift, some small changes must be made to my forecast.  From 10 miles north of the Ohio River and northward,  I’m sticking with 8″-12″ by tomorrow morning.

For counties right along the Ohio River, expect 6″ to 10″ of snow.  The farther south and east you are from the river, the smaller the snow totals.  South of a Leitchfield to E-town to Lexington line, it’ll be mostly an ice storm.

Important note:  

The NAM forecast system is different from the other three models I’ve checked.  It places the snow prediction about 50 miles north and west of the other models (described above).  If that proves to be closer to the actual event, the Louisville area would only get about 1″-3″ of snow plus some sleet.

Stuff

I have an unusual snow gauge.  It was given to me by one of my snow-loving daughters.

This picture is from yesterday.  I’m hoping it’ll look a whole lot different tomorrow!

Decision time

Sun., Feb.14, 2021  5 P.M.

Snow arrives after  midnight

Models continue to make a few tweaks, but even with several different opinions on surface patterns, they all seemed to have arrived at roughly the same general snow forecast for this storm coming out of the Gulf.  The upper air system seems to win out over the surface differences.  So, here goes…

An upper air disturbance ahead of the primary system will bring us snow starting after Midnight.  It should accumulate 2″-3″ by daybreak.  This system will fade out during the morning,

Then the primary system arrives during the afternoon with periods of moderate-to-heavy snowfall for about six hours.  Light snow should then fade away by Midnight.

Total Snow Accumulation:  8″-12″       Would not be surprised to see some areas get more than a foot of snow, especially north and west of Louisville.