10th Anniversary of 2009 Ice Storm

January 26th-28th marked the 10th anniversary of what Governor Steve Beshear described as the worst natural disaster in modern Kentucky history. This storm knocked out power for over 2 million people, caused dozens of deaths related to cars or improperly used generators, and closed schools a week or more in some places. It dropped between a 1/4″ to 2″ of ice over a span of hundreds of square miles and ended with snow accumulations upwards of 4-6 inches for already hard hit areas. Those located further north and not impacted as much by the ice saw snow accumulations of 10+ inches, such as in southern Indiana.

A few facts about the weather set-up/requirements for this storm:

There was sub-freezing air over the Midwest and Central plains for a couple days before the event. This primed the roads and power lines and most surfaces in general for ice accumulation. The cold air remained in place at the surface (between 29 and 33 degreees Fahrenheit for most places), while warm air began to move in around 5,000 feet above the surface. This warm air was associated with a stationary front from the South that stopped right around Central Tennessee. Because warm, moist air is less dense than cold air, it literally ran up and over the cold air at the surface. As the air mass is forced higher in the atmosphere, it expands and cools, the water vapor condenses on tiny particulates in the atmosphere, and eventually becomes to heavy to stay up there. This air between 700mb and 850mb was about 5 degrees Celsius (freezing in Celsius is at 0 degrees), thus the precipitation fell primarily as super-cooled rain. Even though it passed through about 5,000 feet of sub-freezing air, it didn’t have quite enough time to change over to sleet or snow. All it took was that frozen surface for it to immediately freeze on impact.


This surface map shows conditions at 6am/7am CST/EST. N. Arkansas, S. Missouri, and W. Kentucky were already being hit very hard by heavy ice accumulations at this point. -Courtesy WPC surface map archives

Here are some pictures provided by the National Weather Service in Louisville along with maps generated to show ice and snow accumulations throughout the state.


While not primarily snow or ice, high precipitation totals for Southern Kentucky caused flooding of smaller rivers.

Scotty Gore from Clarkson, KY

Tim Kiger from Leitchfield, Kentucky
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WKU Storm Chase

Most meteorologists become interested in studying the weather for one of two reasons: either they had a bad experience with weather and want to learn how to predict it and protect themselves in the future, or they saw a storm and fell in love with the majestic beauty that simultaneously produces destruction. I am personally the second type, which totally makes sense because I tend to live life on the edge. People like me stand outside and watch the storm roll in up to the point the it is basically on top of them…and sometimes we stay outside through the whole thing while telling others to take cover. It’s these same people that get hyped up about going on the Storm Chase class that Dr. Durkee and WKU offer during the first month of every summer. Let’s take a little look into what the school has to offer for those that live life on the edge!

What do they do: CHASE STORMS! But first, you have to forecast them. Students wake up bright and early in whatever place they landed the previous night and get together for a forecast discussion. This discussion is student led with a different person taking lead each morning. Students will use their forecasting skills to pick a few target areas and then narrow it down to the area with the best ingredients for severe weather as a team, under the watchful eye of Dr. Durkee of course. He tends to allow students to run much of the discussion, but he will take the van where he wants to if students have made an blatantly incorrect decision. Besides hoping to find storms, each trip is filled with lots of Subway for lunch and great local eats for dinner. By the end of a long day, students crash in their hotel rooms, sleep for 5-6 hours, and do it all again the next day. Expect to travel over 6,000 miles by the end of the trip (with Dr. Durkee doing 100% of the driving).

When: Students must carve out the first 4 weeks of their summer. This 2-week class is dependent on an ever changing variable, so don’t expect to know what 2-week period you will be going until late in the Spring semester.

Cost: Because it’s a class for 6 hours of course credit, it does cost quite a bit. For in-state students, each credit is about $450, but out-of-state students have to pay $1,100. This amounts to over $3,000 for in-state students and about $7,000 for out-of-state students once food and some other expenses are factored in.

Financial Aid: Don’t run away from that financial storm just yet, because students and organizations can get scholarships from the Student Government Association for trips and research experiences such as this if you write a good enough application. Dr. Durkee also goes out of his way to set-up fundraisers such as cookouts and donation programs to help reduce the hit on students’ bank accounts. While it does look like a lot (and it is), there are reasonable steps you can take to get yourself in that van and out to the Great Plains!

Quotes from the students:

“We were able to make our own decisions, and I feel that by having a class structured in such a way really allows for a growth in confidence that’s difficult to find anywhere else.” -Cait French, Class of 2018 and Storm Chase participant in 2018.

“Storm Chase really was a once in a lifetime experience….Storm Chase really helped me become a more accurate forecaster and helped with understanding concepts in the classroom as well.” -Carson Meredith, Class of 2019 and Storm Chase participant in 2018.

“Honestly,words can’t describe how excited I am to go on Storm Chase. These next two weeks…are going to be the best two weeks of my life!” -A very excited Luke Rodgers, Class of 2020 and upcoming Storm Chase participant who leaves this Saturday.

As noted in the quotes, it’s a nearly indispensable experience. But no matter how hopeful someone is when he/she signs up, anything can happen. Don’t let unmet expectations destroy your love for severe weather if you don’t get to chase a tornado, and don’t sign up a second time just because you got to see more than a dozen. Every trip is different, and the group dynamic will change from year to year. The selection process is also complex, so don’t hesitate to reach out to other meteorology schools or go with some friends! College of Dupage offers 4 10-day trips each year between April and June (June 13th-23rd still has 8 available spots!). Visit https://weather.cod.edu/chasing/index.php?load=chases# for more info. And if you want to avoid to lab fees and cost of credit hours, go with some friends for dirt cheap. Granted, you won’t have the expertise of a well-seasoned teacher to look to for guidance, but you can do things in a manner that is a little less structured (while still never neglecting to do it safely). No matter what option you choose, have fun and live life on the edge!

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Toasty!

Wow it is going to get warm over the next couple of days! That heat will be brought back down though as rain moves into the area tomorrow night. That rain looks to remain in the area until Sunday night.

Another thing to keep in mind is that winds will be higher tomorrow night and Thursday. Thursday could see gusts as high as 29 mph.

  • SUMMARY:
    • Tuesday:
      • High: 82
      • Low: 56
    • Wednesday:
      • High: 85
      • Low: 69
      • A 20% chance of showers will roll in in the later part of the night.
    • Thursday:
      • High: 76
      • Low: 62
      • Showers will fall throughout the day and night. Gusts could reach as high as 29 mph.

Good luck to everyone on their exams and stay safe going home!

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Sunny Skies Return

It was a pretty dreary weekend with a mix of clouds and rain from the system that has moved to our east. Overall, we picked up a few tenths of an inch of total rain Saturday and Sunday. Luckily for the start of the work week (and finals week for WKU students), it will be seasonal and pleasant! As a surface high sits over our region, we will have lots of sunshine today and Tuesday. Temperatures will also feel comfortable, as we will have high’s in the upper 70’s today and lower 80’s tomorrow.

Something we will be keeping an eye on is the severe weather threat coming later this week. The SPC has south-central Kentucky under a 15% chance of severe weather Thursday (7am) to Friday (7am). As the system evolves, we will have a better idea on what you can expect, so check back in with us over the next few days! Until then, enjoy these seasonal conditions.

FORECAST

Today (5/06): Mostly sunny
High: 78
Low: 57
Tonight: Partly cloudy

Tuesday (5/07): Mostly sunny
High: 83
Low: 60
Tuesday Night: Mostly cloudy overnight

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♫♪Stormy May Day♪♫

Good afternoon everyone! Boy has it been a toasty one out there! We will reach a high of 85° by later this afternoon. There will be some relief in site though depending on whether you like this heat or not! Just like AC/DC sang we’ll see a “rainy day, May day”!

Archived Surface Analysis
Surface map from the WPC


Right now we have that warm front dipping down into the northern part of the state. With that front there are some showers and storms that will come into the area later this week. Right now it looks like Wednesday night into Thursday morning will be when those showers and storms will arrive. Models are showing the western most part of the state getting some rain tomorrow. I think it will stay there if it comes over the state border at all. By Wednesday night though it looks like everything to the west will start shifting over. It looks to stay this way through Derby Day. Hopefully conditions won’t make it too difficult for anyone or any horse. We don’t want anyone getting hurt!

  • SUMMARY:
    • Tuesday:
      • High: 85
      • Low: 67
    • Wednesday:
      • High: 81
      • Low: 65
      • Rain and storm chances will increase into the evening.
    • Thursday:
      • High: 78
      • Low: 63
      • Storms and showers throughout the day.

Have a fun, safe week everyone!

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Warm Start To The Week

Lots of warm air has begun funneling in today as a warm boundary has moved through. This will lead to warm air advection moving into south-central Kentucky, giving us high’s in the mid to upper 80’s over then next couple of days. This is the reason it has felt a bit breezy today. Winds expected to be between 10-15 with gusts up to 30 mph are possible. Luckily, much of the precipitation will be held off until later in the week, leaving us with a mix of clouds and a few patches of sun. As seen from GOES-16 visible satellite (below) clouds are beginning to move into our area from the west. A chance of light, short-lived showers, are possible this afternoon, but the chance is low given the relatively dry air sitting over our area.

Moving into tomorrow you can expect much of the same as today. Partly cloudy skies and above average temperatures. Stay cool if you plan to be outside for long periods of time, as we are getting a taste of some summer time heat in late April. Check out the 24-hour temperatures change for the US. Much warmer temperatures have moved into the region thanks to that front.

FORECAST

Today (4/29): Partly cloudy and breezy
High: 84
Low: 60
Tonight: Partly cloudy

Tuesday (4/30): Partly cloudy and warmer
High: 87
Low: 65
Tuesday Night: Mostly cloudy overnight

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The Cloudy Conclusion

Surface Observations (Source: College of DuPage)

A strong high pressure field over the Iowa-Wisconsin border will stop any chances for rain today, but it will remain cloudy. We are currently in the upper 50’s, and those temperatures will climb to the mid-upper 60’s by the end of the afternoon. We will see temperatures sink down to the upper 40’s and low 50’s overnight. The start to our last week of classes will be a cloudy one, though we get to see some peeks of sunshine occasionally. Highs for Monday will reach the low 70’s, and will sink to the upper 50’s overnight Tuesday.

Forecast:

Today: Cloudy, High: 68

Tonight: Mostly cloudy, Low: 53

Monday: Partly Cloudy; High: 71, Low: 57

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Sunny with an Evening Shower

It will be an enjoyable sunny morning here in Bowling Green, with a high pressure field down in the South. However, an incoming low pressure system will bring us a chance for rain for the evening.

Surface Observations (Source: College of DuPage)

Highs will get up to the upper 60’s for our Saturday, with lows in the lower 50’s. On an otherwise beautiful day, there will be a small chance of rain for the early evening hours. Be sure to pack an umbrella if you plan on going out just in case a stray shower affects your area. The rest of the night will be quiet other than a stray shower.

12 HRRR Simulated Reflectivity (Source: College of DuPage)

With the low pressure system passing overnight Sunday, we have another beautiful day in store, but the morning will be a colder one, with highs in the mid-40’s. Sunday afternoon could see highs into the mid-60’s.

Forecast:

Today: Sunny; High: 68

Tonight: 20% chance for a stray shower; Low: 53

Monday: Colder morning, Sunny; High: 67, Low: 46

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Shower Chances Decrease, Leading to a Great Weekend

Good evening folks!!

Shower chances begin to decrease as we head into Friday, paving the road for a great weekend! An upper-level low is currently cutting across the southern portion of the Tennessee River Valley aiding in the development of showers that will continue to move through the area during the overnight hours.

NAM Composite Reflectivity: 06Z (1am) Fri APR 26

High pressure will settle in on Friday, giving way to mostly sunny skies. High temperatures on Friday will hover right around the 70 degree mark.

Tenor Gifs

Transitioning into the night on Friday, temperatures will cool off into the middle 40s thanks to the mostly clear skies. Temperatures will rebound heading into the day on Saturday making for a picture perfect start to the weekend.

NAM Surface Temperature: 18Z (1pm) Sat APR 27

Highs again on Saturday will hover around in the upper 60s with sunny skies.

Tenor Gifs

Sunday will be about the same, with slightly cooler temperatures. Highs around the Bowling Green will stay in the middle 60s with mostly sunny skies. Temperatures rebound heading into the start of the work week with highs rising into the 80s.

For further updates about the Bowling Green forecast tune into wxornotBG, White Squirrel WX, and the WKU Meteorology Blog.

Have a GREAT night and an even better Friday!!

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More April Showers

April has been above average in the rainfall category. With 4.66 inches of rain so far, we’re 1.28 inches above average with more chances for rain coming up. It is likely we end the month a few inches above normal.

HRRR Model Reflectivity

As the HRRR model is illustrating, we have a decent few rounds of rainfall to get through tomorrow and into Friday morning. The severe potential is limited, but I would still expect some gusty winds and scattered thunderstorms tomorrow afternoon. A cold front passes through early Friday, briefly bringing us more gusty winds and cooler temperatures to start the weekend.

GFS Model Temps

The GFS model above shows a few cooler mornings due to a few systems that will pass through the area, but overall the warm trend continues. Next week is looking especially warm, and possibly stormy too but that makes sense considering it is almost May! The changing of the seasons comes with the price of severe weather making it’s return, and although there doesn’t seem to be anything actually significant on the horizon- it is truly only a matter of time.

Summary:

Rain tomorrow, winds could be gusty at times

Cold front passes Friday morning, gusty winds, cooler temperatures

The warm trend continues!

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