From the Ohio Valley south this is an explosive night! Over 50 tornado touchdowns have been reported so far and the day is far from over. There is a continuous line of Tornado Watches from Central Ohio to the Florida Panhandle!
I sent texts to two friends in the Nashville area. I told them the storms near them deserve respect. They get it.
If you’re interested in severe weather the best place to go is the Storm Prediction Center‘s own site. Severe weather forecasting has benefited from digital technology and instant communications more than any other forecast discipline.
SPC’s site is a nerd’s delight! It is loaded with maps, charts and numbers. All the secrets are hidden in plain sight if you know where to look.
The SPC homepage is built around a map with rollover menu. No clicking necessary. Just mosue from menu item to menu item to see the map instantly populated with data.
Clicking the mesoanalysis tab opens another map with the country divided into zones. Some zones are fixed by geography. Others float in response to current or soon-to-be-current conditions. Each can be filled with the parameters most useful in predicting severe storms.
As the weather progresses and new storms look likely SPC issues Mesoscale Discussions. In these discussions forecasters lay out their thinking behind the watches to come. These are often very technical and cloaked in arcane terminology and even more obscure abbreviations.
I’ve been doing this nearly 30 years and I still scratch my head from time-to-time!
SUPERCELLS MOVING THROUGH ERN KY WILL CONTINUE THROUGH AN ENVIRONMENT VERY FAVORABLE FOR STRONG TO VIOLENT TORNADOES AS THE LLJ STRENGTHENS TO IN EXCESS OF 60 KT. LAST VWP DATA FROM JACKSON KY INDICATE VERY LARGE 0-1 KM HODOGRAPHS WITH STORM RELATIVE HELICITY ON THE ORDER OF 800 M2/S2 AND 500 J/KG MLCAPE. THESE PARAMETERS ALONG WITH THE DISCRETE NATURE OF THE CONVECTION WILL CONTINUE TO PROMOTE A THREAT OF TORNADOES…VERY LARGE HAIL AND DAMAGING WIND NEXT FEW HOURS.
That one I understood entirely.
SPC is also the keeper of the storm reports. What’s listed is often unverified and subject to revision, but still a good indicator of what’s going on. There are over 300 reports today including tornadoes!
When tornadoes are on the ground or severe storms are spotted the responsibility gets moved to local Weather Service offices. Following details becomes more random and difficult since offices cover oddly shaped areas. The Storm Prediction Center still watches, but with more of a hands off attitude.
If this site would have existed when I was growing up I might have never left the house!