WxRecap: Wednesday, April 5 Severe Thunderstorms


Wednesday’s Severe Weather Outlook combined with preliminary storm reports. (Storm Prediction Center)

Wednesday was a fairly active severe weather day across not only our area, but much of the east and southeastern portion of the country. In fact, Wednesday had the greatest potential for major severe weather we have seen in quite awhile. We escaped major destructive weather but that doesn’t mean we didn’t see some damage.

This severe weather event was triggered by a strong low pressure system that moved from Missouri and into southern Illinois and Indiana.

Surface Analysis valid Wednesday at 1:00pm (Weather Prediction Center via NWS Louisville)

This system dragged a cold front through the area, and this interacted with a very warm air (temperatures around 80º) which was somewhat unstable (with dew points in the mid to upper 50s) and that triggered strong thunderstorms. There was a lot of what we call wind shear in the atmosphere; in other words, winds changed direction and speed as you went up into the atmosphere. In this case, winds at the surface were coming from the south and southeast and winds aloft were coming out of the southwest, this caused every thunderstorm that developed to rotate.

Observed upper-air sounding from Nashville from 1:00pm on Wednesday. I’ve highlighted the winds as you rise through the atmosphere. Notice the turn as you go up. (Storm Prediction Center)

Rotating thunderstorms have an increased likelihood to produce large hail and tornadoes and we saw plenty of that on Wednesday afternoon.

Several of these thunderstorms produced severe weather in our region. Most of the severe reports we saw were of hail, and in some cases it became large.

There were several hail reports that came out of Butler County.

Shortly after that storm passed out of Butler County, another severe thunderstorm headed right for downtown Bowling Green, where there was more severe weather to be reported. This supercell was a very photogenic storm as it headed for BG. It produced a lot of hail, as well, some up to golf ball sized.

Elsewhere in southern Kentucky, the severe weather was a bit more damaging. For the second and third time in less than 3 weeks, the small town of Center, Kentucky, in Metcalfe County, was hit by an EF-1 tornado. The tornadoes mainly damaged barns and silos and snapped some trees but otherwise hung out over open farmland. The max winds ranged from 95-110 MPH and were both around 50 yards wide.

Tornado tracks from near Center, KY. (NWS Louisville)
Tornado damage from Center from above. (NWS Louisville)
Barn collapsed north of Center from the second tornado. (NWS Louisville)

There were two more tornadoes surveyed by NWS Louisville, one in Green County, an EF-1 and a rare anti-cyclonic tornado in Henry County, also an EF-1.

While it is still spring and more severe weather is possible through the month of April, we’re quiet for now…and quite beautiful for the remainder of the weekend.