Severe storms and possible tornadic activity are predicted for Harlan County and eastern Kentucky today.
“We’ve got a really unusually strong — for January — storm system that is going to move across the state, probably going to bring us a round of severe thunderstorms and just a very lot of wind in the atmosphere tomorrow as this storm goes through,” said National Weather Service Meteorologist Tony Edwards, in Jackson. “The main threat across eastern Kentucky will be strong gusty winds and we could see wind gusts with the thunderstorms up to 60 and 70 miles per hour as they move through.”
Edwards said the current timeline for these storms in Harlan County is between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. He said this is the period when the thunderstorms and high winds will be most dangerous.
“There’s a possibility an isolated tornado could occur,” said Edwards. “If that happens tomorrow that will the first time in our recorded history of a tornado in January in eastern Kentucky. This will be pretty unusual if this happens.”
Tornadoes in January are rare, but not unprecedented. Deadly outbreaks do occur. According to NWS records there have been only 36 January tornadoes in Kentucky from 1870 to 2012.
Watching temperatures today rise into the 60s, Edwards said once the cold front moves through “with a lot of wind,” temperatures will begin to drop quickly and snow “could be flying” by late Wednesday night.
“Harlan County could have a little bit of accumulating snow by late Thursday night,” said Edwards. “We’re going from one extreme to the other. Another system will drop in late Thursday night and may bring us an inch or two of snow for Friday. We’ll be in the 60s today, freezing or upper 20s by tonight and Thursday we’ll not get out of the low 30s. It’s going to be a drop of about 30 degrees between Wednesday and Thursday. On Friday, in Harlan, you’re looking at a high of only 30 degrees. It’s going to be a cold couple of days.”
Edwards suggested everyone purchase an all-weather radio. He said they are available at retail stores such as Walmart.
“They are really neat, because you can program them and they will alert you when a warning has been issued. They can be really life-saving when a situation occurs where you have strong winds and tornadoes,” Edwards said.
Reach Nola Sizemore at 606-573-4510 or at firstname.lastname@example.org