Winds of change

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Main Threats

Today: Strong, gusty winds that could reach speeds of 40 mph.

Wednesday night/Thursday morning: Light wintry precip that could impact travel

Saturday night: light snow that could impact travel (stay tuned)

Summary

Winds will pick up as we go through the day, becoming downright gusty by afternoon. A wind advisory goes in effect at noon and expires Wednesday morning at 9:00 a.m. These southerly winds are blowing in some warmer air and, you guessed it, rain!

Rain will commence on Wednesday and that rainfall could be heavy at times Wednesday afternoon and/or evening. Be careful for the usual flood spots, as our soils are so saturated that water has a hard time finding a place to go these days.

Cold air wraps back in behind that system as our winds turn to the north Wednesday night. That will lead to a wintry mix of rain, freezing rain, sleet and snow that will transition to all snow by daybreak Thursday. Right now, it looks like up to a half inch or so of accumulation is possible. Slick roads may create travel problems Thursday morning so be very mindful of that. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a winter weather advisory issued for us for Thursday morning.

Then, we clear out a bit for Friday but it will be cold. Make sure you bundle up. Our next system will be gathering strength to our southwest on Friday and I will have to monitor that very carefully. Right now, the precipitation with it looks to be light in our area for mainly Saturday night, but temperatures will be cold enough to cause most, if not all, of that precipitation to fall as light snow. Light accumulations are once again possible. Stay tuned.

Records

This weather day made national news for Tennessee back in 1999. That was when a violent tornado ripped through Clarksville, Tennessee, located about 50 miles northwest of Nashville. The tornado came through just before dawn. Despite all the damage, only five people were injured. You may notice in the Almanac section below that our record high for this day was set in 1999, in the middle of this very same warm airmass that led to this violent tornado. Luckily for us, the atmospheric dynamics necessary for tornadoes outran the unstable airmass we had in place, preventing us from having tornadoes on the plateau.

The Clarksville tornado was on the ground for six miles and was up to half a mile wide. Below are a couple of the damage pics.

This tornado outbreak was especially hard on Arkansas. Eight people lost their lives as tornadoes swept across the state on the evening and night of January 21st. Those storms were still raging into Tennessee by the morning of the 22nd. One man last his life in Benton County, in West Tennessee.

This was the largest, most violent tornado outbreak to ever strike the U.S. in the month of January. By the end of the outbreak, 127 tornadoes had touched down. Little Rock, Arkansas was slammed with an F-3 tornado that continues to be the worst tornado that city has ever experienced.

This is what happens, folks, when surface temps climb into the 70s in January. The jet stream that ended up on top of this warm airmass reached speeds of 175 mph. It’s no wonder there were over 100 tornadoes in this outbreak and it’s a wonder to me there weren’t more. It’s also no wonder that so many of the tornadoes in this outbreak were listed as strong to violent.

The year 1999 would make tornado history again come May. Stay tuned for that.

Incidentally, my car broke down on me in Jackson, Tennessee the following fall. As “luck” would have it, the gas station attendant was a survivor of one of the F-4 tornadoes that destroyed her apartment complex in Jackson. She was home and survived by getting in the bathtub and holding on for dear life. She had a LOT of stories to tell!

Speaking of wind….

On this day in 1943 the down-sloping, warming winds east of the Rockies caused some dramatic weather changes. These are the Chinook winds I’ve mentioned in the past. The temperature at Spearfish, South Dakota went from four below zero to 45 degrees above zero in only two minutes! A very strong cold front moved through half an hour later, plunging temperatures from 54 degrees back down to four below zero. That temperature drop occurred in only seven minutes. Talk about a wild weather day!

Below is a diagram that explains the Chinook winds. Air cools and condenses as it rises, and heats up and dries out as it descends. That the basic gist of downsloping winds.

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Almanac

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*I noticed that our average high for this time of year went from 44 to 45 degrees with today’s almanac. The warmer days of spring will be here before you know it!

Record high: 68 (1999)

Record low: -6 (1961)

Today’s sunset: 4:57

Tomorrow’s sunrise: 6:46

Today’s day length: 10 hrs 10 mins 33 secs

Tomorrow’s day length: 10 hrs 12 mins 09 secs

One Year Ago Today

On this day last year we enjoyed a high temperature of 57 degrees. We started the day at 50 degrees. You know that means! When the high and low are that close together you can nearly bet it was cloudy and/or rained. Indeed, 0.12″ of rain fell and cloudy skies were reported all day. Winds were very gusty that day from the south. Some of the gust approached 40 mph.  Just before midnight the winds shifted to the west and I bet you anything a cold front came in. Tune in tomorrow to find out!

Astronomy

Sky viewing tonight: POOR to GOOD

Moon phase: waning gibbous (#6 below)

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The moon still looks full but it is actually waning gibbous now. That means the lit area of the moon is now growing smaller each night, with less than 100% illumination.

Use the moon to help you find Regulus this evening, within the constellation of Leo the Lion. Look east in the hours after sunset and wait for the moon. Regulus will be nearly right on the moon around 7:30 p.m.

Regulus is the brightest star in the constellation of Leo the Lion. It is younger, larger, and hotter than our sun. It spins more rapidly than our sun, making a complete spin around in only 16 hours! Our sun takes 24 DAYS to spin all the way around. If Regulus spun any faster, it would rip apart.

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News

The pictures below were taken by Bob Hearne and they are spectacular! The first one is before the eclipse, the second is as the eclipse is starting, and the third is the full eclipse. Bob notes that it was cool being able to see the stars during the eclipse, when normally the light of the full moon drowns them out. Nice pics, Bob!

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You all have a great day!

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