Monthly Archives: February 2022

Storm updates

4:15 P.M. Thursday, Feb. 17, 2022

Better news!

Some big changes from earlier.  Wind gusts will be much weaker than previously expected.  Louisville area and Southern Indiana wind gusts will most likely stay in the 30-38 mph range.  No longer a serious damage threat here.

However, wind gusts up to 40-45 mph will still be likely until about 8 P.M. over southern and eastern KY.

Another change…the prospect for severe thunderstorms over southern KY has dropped to a very low level.

For the Louisville area, periods of heavy rain will move through the area for the next hour or two.  Rain will end over the area between 6 and 7 P.M.  Then cold weather moves in overnight.

Very Windy afternoon

12:30 P.M. Thursday, Feb.17,2022

Powerful upper air system – weak surface low pressure.  That pretty well sums up today’s weather pattern.  Those upper winds will translate to the surface this afternoon and evening.  Most of Kentucky will see gusts of 40-50 mph between 3 P.M. and 7 P.M.  The strongest wind gusts will be over southern and eastern KY.  Southern Indiana winds will most likely be in the 35-45 mph range.  Expect to see scattered power outages and downed trees/limbs as well.

Heavy rains will be likely throughout the area this afternoon.  One to two inches possible in some spots (especially north of the Ohio River) in just a few hours.  Flash flood prone areas will likely see some flooding.

The biggest question regarding this system is the possibility of severe thunderstorms.  Sometimes  very strong dynamics will overwhelm weak (or no) instability and do all the work itself.  Most likely, this system will be one of the overachievers.  But, luckily, not for the Louisville area or southern Indiana.

A weak surface low pressure is expected roll up the Ohio River this afternoon/evening.  That provides us protection from severe thunderstorms.  However, along and south of the Western KY Parkway, enough instability will probably develop to allow damaging thunderstorms.  High winds will be the primary threat.

This type of system has a history of strong nighttime tornado outbreaks over the deep south.  Tonight should be no exception.  Most of Mississippi, northern Alabama and western Tennessee have the highest risk.

New terminology for an old excuse

5:30 P.M. Sat., Feb. 5, 2022

Got a good laugh from this morning’s CJ.  When asked by a reporter, “What happened to the big ice storm?, a National Weather Service forecaster replied that the storm had “underachieved.”   Essentially saying that our forecast was correct and nature was wrong.  Give me a break.

A little background

When I arrived in Louisville in 1969, I heard many stories about a long-time Head of the local “Weather Bureau”, as many people called it back then. O. K. Anderson was his name and he was closely associated with phrases like, “It was coming our way, then this darned Ohio Valley changed its path and ruined everything.”  “This darned Ohio Valley” got blamed for all the missed forecasts.

He was correct, the Ohio Valley does alter weather systems.  My reasoning, however, was that the Ohio Valley has been basically the same for thousands of years.  Shouldn’t it always alter weather patterns the same way?

It took several years (and some pretty bad forecasts), to start seeing patterns of behavior difference between the forecast models and reality.  After awhile, I developed enough confidence to actually use those observed differences in my forecasts.  What an improvement that made.

But, back to my original point.  Over many years, forecasting improved a good bit but winter storms still were the source of quite a few “misses.”  And snow and ice forecasts were far more noticeable than anything else.  It’s like this:  if you forecast rain, it doesn’t really matter whether it rains .1″ or 1″,  it still “rains.”  But if you predict one inch of snow and you get 10″, everybody notices.

When forecasts didn’t pan out, I kept hearing two specific phrases.  “We got lucky” and “We dodged the bullet”  are still used regularly.  I’ve been telling people for decades, if you hear either one of those phrases, what they are actually saying is, “I was wrong.”

So, we’re back to 2022 and we have a new entry to our list of excuses.  At least twice this winter I’ve read from the NWS, a storm underachieved.  So now, you can blame a missed forecast on “the Ohio Valley”, “we were lucky”, “we dodged the bullet” or “the storm underachieved.”  Any way you say it, it means “I blew it.”

Note 1:  We’re all human.  We all make mistakes.  Some people just can’t admit it.

Note 2:  This is exactly the same reason that has brought us the so-called “climate crisis.”

A Eureka moment?

1 P.M. Thursday, Feb. 3, 2022

For several days I’ve been been looking at model after model after model etc trying to figure out today’s expected icy weather.  Even this morning, five different models are giving different outcomes.  Those results have told me one thing that I didn’t want to know – my expectation for mostly sleet was wrong.  But, it finally brought me the answer.  An old expression from my college days popped into my head – “The last wave on the train is always the strongest”.

I’m not going to explain that now.  Let’s just say the last wave will cross southern and eastern KY this afternoon and evening.  And, it’s a little stronger than the models picked up on earlier.  That changes everything.

In general, the added strength of the wave will slow the progress of the cold air south of the Ohio River and delay the onset of freezing rain entering Kentucky.  The predicted major ice storm won’t get started until most of the moisture is gone.  It’s doubtful that any part of the Commonwealth will get over .25″  of freezing rain.  Most of central and southern KY will see very little.  No big problems with ice.

This last wave will produce periods of moderate rain until about 5 P.M.  Then, as the rain intensity tapers, colder air will arrive.  So we’ll see a few hours of light freezing rain and sleet from about 6- 9 P.M.  After that,  periods of light snow/flurries will continue overnight. Total accumulation of sleet and snow of up to one inch by morning.  Icing of perhaps .1″ to .2″.

Travel conditions should remain generally good through the evening.  As always, the primary concern will be freezing of bridges and overpasses after 6 P.M.

In summary:  the predicted major ice storm will be a dud.

NOTE:  The above discussion refers to Kentucky only.  For Indiana (except for the extreme southern edge), A major winter storm is going on.  From freezing rain and sleet near the river to heavy snows farther north, the Hoosier state travel will be hazardous.


Icy Thursday

5 P.M. Wednesday, Feb. 2, 2022

Forecast models for tomorrow’s ice storm are very close, but that still doesn’t clarify the situation too much.  Conditions that come together to produce freezing rain are squeezed into a very small box.  Conditions favoring sleet are also narrowly defined, but not nearly as much as for freezing rain.  So, we’re in the difficult situation of trying to figure out the timing when freezing rain mixes with, and then changes to, sleet.  A few hours either way will make a big difference in the result.  In general, the longer the freezing rain continues, the better the result for us.

So, here’s my attempt to play “model whisperer” to come up with a forecast.  Rain will continue off and on tonight.  Temperatures will remain in the 40’s until about 2 A.M. then drop into the lower 30’s by daybreak.  Temperatures should remain in the lower 30’s until mid afternoon.  Freezing rain will mix with rain during the morning.  This will have little or no impact on morning travel.  Sleet will begin to enter the mix shortly after Noon.  After 2 P.M.  sleet will become the dominate precipitation through about 7 P.M.  Then, a little light snow/flurries will mix in as precipitation diminishes overnight.

IF – and I do mean IF – the above scenario is essentially what actually happens, this is what will result.  The freezing rain may accumulate up to a quarter-inch of ice  on tree limbs, power lines, etc.  but that amount doesn’t cause much damage.  Roadways will remain wet for the most part and driving should remain ice-free through early afternoon.  Sleet will ice the roads quickly and accumulations could amount to 1″-2″ by 6 P.M.  Evening rush hour will be very difficult.

By Friday morning  temperatures will have dropped into  the low to mid 20’s and we’ll have that 1″- 2″ coating of sleet with a small topping of snow.

NOTE:  The National Weather Service is really going gung-ho with the icing forecast.  The top edge of their forecast is greater than one half inch of ice accumulation.  That kind of ice accumulation would be highly destructive.  A large part of our area would be without power due to downed power lines.  Tree damage would be a widespread.



Thursday’s main concern looks to be sleet.

5 P.M. Tuesday, Feb. 1, 2022

Basic ideas put forth in yesterday’s post still hold.  However, some subtle changes in the models since yesterday, to my mind anyway, seem to be shifting the primary focus away from freezing rain toward sleet.  And we’re not talking about just a little sleet.  Over an inch of sleet is possible!  We don’t see that very often.

Here’s my current idea about this will play out.  Rain begins around rush hour tomorrow and continues off and on through the day and night.  Temperatures will be about 50 tomorrow morning and slowly fall into the lower 30’s by Thursday’s morning rush hour.

Thursday morning the rain will become freezing rain but, with daylight and temperatures in the lower 30’s, the freezing rain should create few problems.  Things get really interesting during the afternoon.  Sleet will mix in with the freezing rain and quickly become the dominate precipitation form until all precipitation fades away during the evening.  A brief period of snow will be possible as the sleet ends.

The big question in my mind is when the sleet begins.  An early afternoon start could result in significant accumulations while a late afternoon onset would create far fewer problems.  At this time, an earlier start looks more likely.  That would produce a 1″-2″ sleet accumulation – a major driving mess.

Things can still change in the next 48 hours.  Another update tomorrow.


Over the past two years the Corona Virus has killed 0.3% of the U.S. population.  World War II  also killed 0.3% percent of our population, but it took twice as long.