We have already got quite a bit going this Saturday morning with wind gusts approaching 50mph and strong storms moving across western Kentucky. A wind advisory is in effect through Saturday night. There has been one storm near Benton, East of Paducah, that has produced severe wind as well as a couple tornado-warned circulations. Weak instability in the lowest-layer of the atmosphere has limited a greater tornado threat for parts of KY just West of the WABBLES region, but nonetheless it shows just how potent this system has been.
Early Morning Radar
Saturday Morning Severe Threat
As mentioned, strong storms have been making their way eastward as a very strong low-pressure system crosses the central/eastern U.S. It really is still January but the strong southerly flow associated with this system has resulted in unseasonably warm air surging northward across the eastern U.S and this will lead to highs near 70°F today. Of course temperatures this warm in January usually comes at a price and that’s where the storms and rain come into play.
We already mentioned the strong southerly flow, and we’ve felt it too with wind gusts as high as 51mph (measured at the Ohio County Mesonet Station at 5:25am CST). This is bringing deep moisture northward and dew points are in the 57-63°F range. This is sufficient moisture to fuel the approaching line of storms. The limiting factor is instability. Weak instability will act to prevent a more widespread severe threat. However, there will be some degree of destabilization, even if it’s marginal, and the extreme wind shear in place has proven capable of compensating for this weak buoyancy. The end result should be storms capable of damaging wind gusts and perhaps a few embedded tornadoes moving through WABBLES during the late morning and early afternoon. The Storm Prediction Center hasn’t issued any watches (yet) but it is possible (I even think it’s likely) by late morning. An upgrade to the categorical severe risk to at least a slight seems necessary too but the morning outlooks aren’t out yet so just monitor the conditions throughout the morning.
Also worth mentioning is the heavy rain from this system. The ground is already saturated and another 1-2″ of rainfall is expected today. This may result in some degree of flooding, especially flash flooding in the areas that receive the heaviest downpours.
The severe storm threat is associated with a cold front that is blasting through. The front will pass by the early afternoon and will be marked by a wind shift from South/Southeast to West/Southwest. Cooler air will overspread the region behind the front and temperatures will fall to the low 60s during the mid-afternoon and the upper 30s overnight. Lingering rain showers are possible tonight although the heaviest rain will exit with the cold front. Strong post-frontal wind gusts will remain in the 30-40mph range through tonight.
High-pressure and subsidence (sinking air) in the wake of today’s system will lead to a much more calm Sunday. Stubborn clouds will be hanging around but we’ll see still see partly sunny skies with temperatures topping out around 49°F. Overnight lows will be in the upper 30s as we see a southerly wind established again.
Another system is poised to bring rain again to start next week so stay tuned!