When severe thunderstorms fire up around the Commonwealth, forecasters with the National Weather Service often make use of a network of automated weather observation stations around the state. The network, known as Kentucky Mesonet, has seen steady growth over the last eight years.
But the challenge now facing the network is long-term sustainability.
State climatologist and WKU professor Stu Foster says the automated reporting sites provide real-time data such as temperature, wind speed, wind direction and rainfall amounts. The data is collected and uploaded to the Kentucky Climate Center every five minutes and is available for anyone to see.
He says it can give the weather service a better idea of what’s actually going on on the ground in addition to what they can see on radar.
Update: 7:09 p.m. The Tornado Watch has been extended through 8 p.m. central/9 p.m. eastern. Bowling Green and Somerset are now under a Flash Flood Watch.
Update: 5:50 p.m.
The National Weather Service in Paducah says a line of strong storms in Muhlenberg and Todd counties is expected to move out around 6:30 p.m. or so. Also, a Flood Advisory has been issued for the greater Owensboro area.
Update 4:44 p.m.
A Severe Thunderstorm Warning has been issued for Muhlenberg and Todd Counties until 5:30 p.m. CDT. Forecasters say the storm could contain 60 mph winds and quarter-sized hail.
Update 4:38 p.m.
The National Weather Service has issued a Flash Flood Warning for parts of Allen, Barren, Green, Hart, Metcalfe and Monroe counties until 7 p.m. CDT tonight.
The possibility of strong to severe storms, possibly even tornadoes exists for Wednesday afternoon and evening for much of Kentucky. The National Weather Service has issued a Tornado Watch until 7 p.m. central/8 p.m. eastern. The watch means atmospheric conditions could produce a tornado.
Showers and thunderstorms are expected to continue throughout the night and into Thursday morning. Rain chances are forecast to taper off as we head toward the weekend.
Officials in far western Kentucky report damage to two churches, a grain silo and other structures as strong winds and a possible tornado hit Saturday afternoon. There were no reports of any deaths or injuries associated with the storms.
In Livingston County, a gym at North Livingston Baptist Church was destroyed and a steeple blown off at Hampton Methodist Church. Hickman County Sheriff Mark Green confirmed that grain bin fell over in Clinton. Part of U.S. Highway 51 has been closed. KY 80 is closed at the 2.5 mile marker in Carlisle County between Arlington and Columbus.
Other counties have reported minor damage and flooded roadways associated with the afternoon storms. The National Weather Service and local officials will be inspecting the impacted areas Sunday to determine if damage was caused by straight line winds or a tornado.
Kentucky Emergency Management is reminding residents to remain alert for further weather updates by weather radio and local media broadcasts.
Weather forecasts, alerts and warnings can be found here.
A series of storms that moved through the region Thursday night caused several fires, including one that killed two people in Louisville. WLKY-TV reported the fire broke out in the middle of thunderstorms last night. Neighbors told arriving firefighters two people were still inside the home.
Residents of 21 Kentucky counties who suffered losses from severe storms that occurred between February 29th and March 3rd can obtain free legal advice. Regardless of whether the damage was caused by straight line winds, flooding, or tornadoes, survivors of the severe weather in the 21 impacted counties can call toll-free for legal help. The service allows callers to request the assistance of a lawyer to deal with home repair contracts, questions about insurance coverage, securing government benefits, or the replacement of important documents like wills.
The National Weather Service says conditions are right today for the possible development of tornadoes and damaging wind over parts of the Tennessee Valley to the Southern Appalachians. The areas most likely to experience this activity include Northern Alabama, Northern Georgia, Southern and Eastern Kentucky, Northern Mississippi, Western North Carolina, and much of Tennessee.