NWS Storm Survey Team in Franklin, Scott Counties

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Updated: 1/18/2012 2:43 pm

Early Afternoon Update, January 18, 2012

An EF-1 Tornado was confirmed in southwestern Scott County, KY.  This is the first January Tornado in history for the Lexington metro area*.  (Lincoln County had a January tornado on January 2nd, 2006, technically outside of the true metro area.)

Stats:
Near Soards Road, about 4 miles NE of Midway, not far from the northern end of Woodford County
Max Winds: 90 mph
Path Length: 0.45 miles
Path Width: 75 yards
Damaged: 3 barns, fencing, trees

Damage in Franklin County and also in the city of Georgetown has been determined to be caused by straight line winds.

*
Tornadoes are much more easily detected now than, say, 50, 100 or 130 years ago.  Thousands of tornadoes across the nation were undetected in rural areas, a century ago.  Now, even a brief EF-1 in eastern Wyoming is typically investigated.  Doppler Radar now highlights areas of strong rotation.  In the past, eyewitness reports and significant damage near civilization were all we had.  Therefore, an apparent trend of an increase in tornadoes may just be a result of the way tornadoes are observed and investigated.

Geoff


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Wednesday, January 18, 2012:
NWS Storm Survey Team to Assess Damage in Franklin, Scott Counties

Good Wednesday morning, everybody.  What a difference a day makes!  Yesterday's aggressive cold front produced widespread, gusty thunderstorms across central and eastern Kentucky, and as Lauren discussed in last night's blog post, a few tornadoes in southeastern Indiana and in Louisville.  Temperatures were in the upper 50s before the front arrived.  Now we find ourselves in the upper 20s and lower 30s with much quieter weather.

This morning, a batch of late-breaking wind damage reports came in from eastern Kentucky, adding to the long list severe weather reports from the past 24 hours.  Here is an updated map.

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At midday yesterday, only 3,000' above the ground, a screaming wind from the southwest blew at 65-70 mph.  Higher, a very gusty wind blew from the west.  This contrast in wind with height is called "shear".  That shear (or twisting of the winds with height) led to the formation of tornadoes to our west yestrday.

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The rotating thunderstorm that produced a few tornado touchdowns in extreme southern Indiana and in Louisville in the late morning became slightly less organized as it marched east into the Bluegrass.  Rotation was not as evident on radar, but the storm still had significant firepower.  You may have seen the video of a storage facility which was destroyed by the noon thunderstorm in southeastern Franklin County.  (Sam Champion showed it on Good Morning America today as well.)  Most of the reports across eastern and south-central Kentucky involved downed trees and power outages.

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Today, a storm survey team from the National Weather Service office in Louisville will tour and assess the damage between Frankfort and Georgetown.  In general, the damage was scattered within a few miles of highway 460.  We will soon learn if that damage was from straight-line winds, or from a tornado.

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As far as rainfall is concerned, we received 1.05" in Lexington with the Tuesday storm system.  To our north, Cincinnati set a daily rainfall record.

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Farther north, Detroit received 1.35".  Aside from the I-75 corridor from Lexington to Detroit, rainfall was not quite as impressive.

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As a quick follow-up or update to the conversation about Thursday, there are no major changes to the forecast.  A light wintry mix remains possible, primarily to the north of I-64.  A few sprinkles will be possible in southern Kentucky.  With that said, the trend with this morning's 06z computer model runs has been that the northern track (drier for KY) appears to be winning out.  Even the GFS slid a bit north with this morning's run.  As I type, the 12z WRF is coming in, and that is also maintaining a northern track.  (If we take it literally, the 12z WRF keeps measurable precipitation north of the Cincinnati metro area.)  My gut would say that northern Kentucky may see an extremely light wintry mix (fleeting flakes / a sleet pellet or sprinkle), but it will likely be too light to produce much of any impact.  Chances of any impact along I-64 are even lower.

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Until next time, BUNDLE UP!  January has returned!

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Geoff

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