Posted on Leave a comment

Remembering our own natural disaster

First of all, isn’t the sunshine this morning nice? We have been blessed with cloudy, rainy mornings this summer! Enjoy this.

Today, we’ll see partly cloudy skies and perhaps an isolated afternoon shower. Tonight is probably the better night of the week to head to the Fair. If we can clear out by Saturday evening, that would be a great time too, but I’ll have to keep an eye on that forecast, for sure. Tomorrow, rain from Harvey begins to arrive and that will stick around right on through at least the first half of Saturday. Rain could be heavy at times on Thursday and we may even see some stronger storms. I’ll keep you posted. Highs each day will be in the 70s, getting more humid each day. Tropical systems are notorious for bringing up very humid, tropical air.

As you know, one of the country’s worst natural disasters continues to unfold over east Texas. Last night, heavy rains once again pounded the Houston area. The National Weather Service is now saying the economic impact to our country will likely be unlike anything we have ever seen. I’m not looking forward to the news that we’ll be hearing from there throughout this week.  The storm is currently back over the water and has gained a little strength. The tropical storm is expected to make landfall again on the Louisiana coast Wednesday afternoon. The storm will then track northward and right over Middle TN on Friday and Saturday. By then, the storm will have weakened substantially and only bring some gusty winds and heavy downpours of rain. I wouldn’t be surprised to see us get 2-4″ of rain.

As we watch this natural disaster unfold, I’m reminded of our own natural disasters right here in Cumberland County. We always bounce back, and the folks of Texas will too. It just takes time. During the afternoon of August 29, 1990 the afternoon skies darkened over Crossville and hailstones began to fall. These were hailstones like many around here had never seen before. Some folks described the stones as being the size of bricks, according to official storm reports filed by the National Weather Service. If that weren’t enough, the stones were being thrown by 75 mph winds. These winds also flipped trailers and peeled roofs from houses. Car windshields all over town were smashed, as were store front windows and anything glass caught facing the wind. The siding on people’s houses was pitted with hail, some scars showing signs of hailstones the size of softballs. The Fair was in town and I think every light bulb there was smashed. What were the chances we’d get a hailstorm while the Fair was here? Fifteen thousand acres of crops were destroyed. Eleven people were injured, but thankfully no one was killed. Pine trees were stripped of their needles near Monterey and many of them never recovered.  Krystal was being built at that time and had significant damage from wind and hail. Total damages from this one storm were estimated at 30 million dollars!  It was quite the storm!

We hadn’t seen anything like that in our county since the April 3, 1974 tornado that hit the Plateau Road area. We wouldn’t see anything like the 1990 storm again until May of 1995 when hail and tornadoes hit our county.

That hailstorm was part of an isolated t-storm that came across eastern Middle TN during that afternoon. Farther north, over Indiana, many more storms were erupting. This same system spawned tornadoes the day before over Illinois. In fact, the only F-5 tornado ever recorded in the month of August in the United States was recorded on August 28, 1990 in Plainfield, Illinois and was spawned by this same storm system.

So, let’s enjoy this sunshine this morning and remember, there’s a lot of folks in this country who would love to trade places with us right now.

Today is also the anniversary of the last disaster to surpass all disasters in this country. Hurricane Katrina hit 12 years ago this morning. I’ll have much more on that tomorrow!

Current track forecast for Harvey




Posted on Leave a comment

Will Harvey impact us?

As we watch one of the worst natural disasters in US history unfold over Texas, we can’t help but wonder what impact Tropical Storm Harvey will have on us here in Tennessee. The once category four hurricane has now been downgraded to a tropical storm, but it will continue to produce severe weather and heavy rainfall for days to come. Currently, it is positioned right on the Texas coastline again and is expected to move back over the Gulf today. The storm will strengthen into a stronger tropical storm before making landfall again near Houston. They have already broke their all-time record for rainfall, with another 10-20 inches of rain on the way. This is the worst storm we’ve seen since Katrina in 2005. It’s hard to believe that it went from a 35 mph depression to a category four hurricane (130 mph) in only 48 hours! That is impressive and scary.

After the storm makes landfall later Tuesday night near Houston, it will slowly track north-northeast and eventually weaken to a tropical depression (winds of 35 mph). It is expected to track to Memphis by Friday afternoon. This would put us on the right side of the storm, which is the rainiest side. That would mean a very wet Labor Day weekend for us. However, confidence in this track forecast is very low, so stay tuned!

Meanwhile, we have another tropical storm developing off the southeast coast. That storm will be Irma and will bring heavy rainfall to the South Carolina coast today and tomorrow. The Coast of North Carolina will get in on the action tomorrow. If that weren’t enough, another disturbance has just rolled off the African coast of and has a high chance of becoming a tropical storm, with models hinting at a US threat in a about a week to ten days. Whew, can you tell we’re nearing the peak of hurricane season?

As for our weather, expect cloudy skies, along with scattered showers and t-storms. That forecast will persist right on through the week. Rain chances will really go up for Friday, Saturday and Sunday if the remnants of Harvey move over us. No widespread severe weather is anticipated this week. I’m currently watching  a very heavy band of rainfall stretching from Nashville to Jackson, TN but it is practically stationary at the moment.

Switching gears, tomorrow is the anniversary of the devastating 1990 hailstorm that hit Crossville. You’ll want to tune in tomorrow for that story!

Below are some scenes from Houston.




Posted on Leave a comment

Devastating Hurricane Harvey aims at Texas coastline

It’s been nearly 12 years since our country has faced a storm like this one. Hurricane Harvey will forever change some coastal communities along the Texas Gulf Coast. Some places will be uninhabitable for weeks or months. Storm surge to 12+ feet, rainfall amounts of 2-4 feet (that’s right, FEET), and winds in excess of 100+ mph will bring devastation that will require help on every level. The city of Houston, the fourth largest city in the US, is facing flooding like they haven’t seen in decades (if ever). The worst part is that Harvey will stall just inland and bring days of torrential rainfall and damaging winds.  We’ll see flooding like we haven’t seen since Katrina. Incidentally, if this were hitting New Orleans I’m not sure the city would survive. This will be President Trump’s first test in dealing with a natural disaster.

After the storm makes landfall and stalls out, we’re really not sure where it will go from there. Models are suggesting that the storm will move back out into the Gulf by Monday, restrengthen, make landfall again at Houston, and then straddle the coast to New Orleans before moving up our way. I’ve seen crazier things with hurricanes, believe it or not. Hurricane Ivan (2004) made landfall at Mobile, Al and moved north and northeast to Maine. Then it moved back over the Atlantic and headed south. It eventually made landfall again on the east Florida coast, got back into the Gulf and made landfall again at Houston. How wild is that?!

Our thoughts and prayers go out to all those in the path of Hurricane Harvey.  I hope everyone stays focused on the flood potential and not the wind threat. More people die from flooding than from any other form of severe weather in the US (and world). With nearly four feet of rain coming to some places and a storm surge of 12 feet, that is the real threat. Unfortunately, we have no scale for flooding. We only have the Saffir-Simpson scale and it uses only wind.  We are using an experimental storm surge product now, but it’s still experimental. Those maps show a storm surge coming into the suburbs of Houston.

As for our weather, it couldn’t be any better.  We’ve  got nothing but sunshine coming our way. Now that Harvey will stall on the Texas coast, we should see beautiful weather right on through the weekend. Highs in the upper 70s and lows in the mid 50s. You just can’t beat that for August. Rain chances will likely pick up the middle of next week and into next weekend, as Harvey and a cold front collide on our area. It’s too early to tell, but indications are that we could see some substantial rainfall the end of next week, which certainly doesn’t bode well for those planning on going to the Fair. I’ll keep an eye on it, though.

Below is an infrared satellite view of Harvey right now. It will certainly be interesting to see how much stronger it gets today.


Posted on Leave a comment

Hurricane Harvey will be one to watch

We haven’t had a major hurricane make landfall in the US since the hurricane season of 2005. That may change tomorrow night. Tropical Storm Harvey is making its way through the southern Gulf right now and is aiming for the Texas coastline. The storm has winds of 60 mph right now, but the storm could undergo rapid intensification today and tonight, possibly exploding into a major hurricane. The Houston area is also in the cross hairs of this system. Since Houston is the country’s fourth largest city, you can only imagine the ramifications. The main thing to concentrate on is the flooding. The system is expected to stall just off the coast or just onshore, which is a worst-case scenario for that area. We could be looking at phenomenal rainfall totals and flooding scenes that we haven’t seen since Katrina. Just keep all those folks in your thoughts and prayers. They’re going to need it.

As for us, we couldn’t ask for better weather. We’re going to be enjoying clear skies and low humidity. We’ll see highs each day in the mid to upper 70s and overnight lows in the mid 50s. It doesn’t get much better than this in August! By Sunday, the heat and humidity will lead to an isolated shr or storm and we’ll see that through the first half of next week. The remnants of Harvey are expected to move in the middle or end of next week, bringing widespread rainfall to our area.

I had someone ask what I meant by “tropical tornadoes” in my last post. That’s a great question and I thought I should have explained that when I wrote that. Tropical tornadoes typically occur in the right front quadrant of a hurricane. For instance, if a hurricane is making landfall in southern Texas and it’s moving west, everyone north  and northwest of the landfall would be at the highest risk.  They are typically weak and short-lived tornadoes and result from what we call directional wind shear. As a hurricane makes landfall, the earth’s surface (friction) causes the surface winds to slow, while the winds up off the surface remain much faster. This causes the air to roll. If a t-storm’s updraft lifts this roll, it can tighten as it is stretched vertically, leading to a quick spin-up of a tornado.


I’ll be keeping an eye on Harvey all day! If you have any questions at all, just let me know!