Severe weather outlook: ‘This is pretty serious situation’

Published 4:36 pm Monday, April 1, 2024

By Tom Latek, Kentucky Today

FRANKFORT, Ky. (KT) – The National Weather Service (NWS) is warning Kentuckians that there could be several waves of severe weather, including tornadoes, high winds, large hail and flooding between now and Tuesday evening.

“This is a pretty serious situation,” said John Gordon, Meteorologist in charge of the NWS office in Louisville. “A big trough coming out of the Southwest is interacting with the jet stream, which will make things problematic with a lot of wind shear.”

Gordon says there are ingredients that need to come together for severe weather to occur, wind shear and instability. “Wind shear and instability are really maxed two different times in the next 24 hours.”

Scattered thunderstorms are possible through Monday evening, but there will be much better chances of severe weather after midnight Monday into Tuesday, according to Gordon, with primetime between 2 a.m. and 7 a.m.

“A big complex of storms will develop in Missouri and move East,” Gordon said. “The confidence of this first event is in the high category. Wind and flooding will be the main show. This complex of storms is going to produce a lot of wind, a lot of lightning and heavy rain.”

As a result of the forecast for heavy rain, a flood watch is in effect from 8 p.m., Monday until 8 p.m. on Tuesday (ET), as a result, along and East of US 421 between Milton, Frankfort and Lexington and then East to Inez in Martín County.

The second wave, which will be more dangerous, is expected on Tuesday, Gordon said. “We’re going to have a cold front flying out of Missouri across the Mississippi River, moving into a warm, moist, buoyant atmosphere, which is sheared because of all this jet stream energy.”

He added an area of showers and thunderstorms that are forecast for the morning could keep it from becoming a severe weather outbreak. “If we don’t get them and the sun comes out, late morning or early Tuesday afternoon, it is not going to be good. Plain and simple, we are going to get warm sector supercells, which are rotating thunderstorms.”

While that part of Kentucky along and East of Interstate-65 is under an enhanced risk of severe weather (level 3 of the 5 level severe weather risk categories), Northern Kentucky and much of Ohio is under a Moderate Risk, which is level 4.

Gordon says he expects to see a severe thunderstorm or possibly tornado watch Monday night and a tornado watch is likely on Tuesday.

Wednesday will mark the 50th anniversary of the April 3,1974 super outbreak, still the second-largest tornado outbreak in U.S. history. Seventy-nine Kentuckians lost their lives, including 31 in Brandenburg. There was a total of 319 fatalities in 11 states and the Canadian province of Ontario.