The Emergency Management Director for Cumberland County, Rick Williams, invited me to join him at the Emergency Operations Center for a conference call by the National Weather Service Nashville. That call took place at 10:30, just as updated info was coming out from the Storm Prediction Center. Nothing much changed with the new convective outlook, except that they nudged the greater threat a bit closer to the plateau. Now, all of Putnam and White Counties are in the enhanced risk again. We still expect the bulk of the activity to move in after midnight.
The greatest tornado threat is expected to be across northern Mississippi, northwest Alabama, and southern Middle Tennessee. A strong tornado or two are even possible. We will watch these storms very closely as they move east, northeast overnight.
We have two scenarios to watch and they both involve the sun and warm, moist air. Our dewpoint is now about 54 degrees, so it’s creeping upward. The higher that dewpoint gets the worse off we will be. We have to watch for that sun, too. The more sun we get today the warmer we will get and the worse the storms will be tonight. Warm, moist air is what fuels these storms.
The other ingredient for severe weather is strong winds throughout the atmosphere. That is already in place. We just have to wait and see how much energy builds here at the surface in the form of warm, moist air.
The NWS makes a good point. We are going to see severe weather in TN tonight. The exact location of that and the magnitude of that severe weather is what is in question. We will know a lot more in about 6 hours or so. If we stay cloudy and cooler we will only worry about a squall line with strong straight-line winds and a brief spin-up of a tornado. If the sun comes out and warms us up really good, we will have a greater threat of both damaging winds and tornadoes.
I’ll be watching it all and I will likely be at the EOC tonight with Rick watching how things evolve. What should you do right now? Just make sure you have multiple sources to get your weather info from tonight and make sure you know what to do if a warning is issued. Any tornado that does develop tonight will be moving really fast. You will have little time to act and no time for last minute “what do I do?” decisions. Dust off that severe weather plan now.
I’ll be right here. If you have any questions or concerns just let me know!