As we get closer to the halfway mark in February, we can’t help but look at how similar January and February 2020 is to the beginning months of 2019. This time last year, we had a January 1 to February 11 rainfall total of 8.39 inches. As of yesterday, Bowling Green has an official rainfall observation of 8.28 inches since January 1. Normal rainfall is in the neighborhood of 5.2 inches, so we are already 3 inches above normal. Be weather-aware friends, a Flash Flood Watch will be in effect as active weather approaches WABBLES today.
Heavy Rain and Windy Conditions
A potent low pressure system will be moving northeast into the Ohio Valley today. It will first bring a warm front across the region, where we will see some scattered light showers, but the main rain event comes when the cold front finally arrives later on today.
Rain showers are in the vicinity this morning, and will continue throughout the day. We may see some more breaks before noon, but overall rain will remain light, as seen below with the European model guidance.
The driving force behind the steering of the low pressure center is the atmospheric winds. Airline pilots and passengers will experience quite a bit of turbulence over the Ohio Valley today as winds at 30,000 feet will be around 190 mph. Closer to the surface, winds will be around 70 mph at 5,000 feet above our heads.
Why should you care about winds at 5,000 feet? Well, these southwest winds will easily bring an abundant amount of moisture in the atmosphere to the area, which will lead to increased rain rates and possible flooding impacts. Here at the surface, we could see wind gusts up to 25 mph during the afternoon and evening hours, so an umbrella may not be as useful then.
Guidance still has some disagreements on timing, but the GFS and European models both seem to agree pretty well on having the main line of heavy rain moving through the area around 6 pm today.
Some other models bring the line through earlier than 6 pm, and some bring it after 6 pm, so a window of 3-9 pm will be a safe bet to see heavy rain bands and strong winds.
There is some uncertainty regarding how long the heavy rain will last once it finally arrives. Here’s a good takeaway from the National Weather Service regarding that:
One limiting factor to flash flooding will be the overall speed and narrowness of the convective line. Storm motions are generally around 60-70kts to the northeast, and a majority of high-res guidance shows the line of most intensive convection being no more than 20-30 miles wide. The overall speed and width of the line would keep residence times of the heaviest precipitation generally under an hour.
Additional uncertainty remains on if we will see any thunderstorms today. Highs are forecast to be around 50ºF, which will limit the amount of unstable energy needed to raise thunderstorms into the atmosphere. We can’t completely rule out some isolated embedded thunder since the wind shear is so strong, and there will be plenty of moisture along the cold front. The main story of today remains the strong winds and heavy rain.
The Weather Prediction Center has forecast for WABBLES to see around 1.5 inches of rainfall. With the above normal rainfall so far this year, and the current super-saturated soils, flooding can easily occur. With this in mind, a Flash Flood Watch will go into effect at 2 pm today.
Here is also your weekly reminder to avoid Fairview when flooded.
The Weather Prediction Center has the Ohio Valley under a Moderate Risk for Excessive Rainfall today, so be aware that many smaller streams may flood, potentially affecting larger rivers.
After the cold front passes tonight, some lingering showers may persist after midnight, but the main event will be over. Showers eventually move out, but clouds will stay around for the overnight hours. Temperatures will drop to around 39ºF.
To summarize it all up, take a look at this graphic from the National Weather Service, which highlights the main timing of events for today.
Quiet Weather to Follow
High pressure fills on behind the front passes to allow for a nice break. Clouds will be decreasing tomorrow as the day goes on. The good news is that we will be dry.
Winds will be out of the northwest, so temperatures will be a bit cooler due to cold air transport. Expect highs to be around 42ºF. Skies become more clear during the nighttime hours, and with continued northwest winds of 15 mph, lows will drop to a bitter 15ºF.
Much Needed Dry Weekend
High pressure and sunny skies will be present for Friday and Saturday. A few days of dry weather will be much needed after the soggy weather pattern we have been in.
While temperatures will only get to about 32ºF on Friday, plenty of sunshine will be around. Saturday will be much warmer with temperatures around 48ºF.
That wraps up today’s forecast. Hope you have a great Wednesday! Make sure to look for the Afternoon Video Update on Facebook and the Afternoon Weather Story on Twitter, only at @wxornotBG.