Friday, August 24, 2007

Nature's Double Whammy: First the Heat, Now the Big Thunderstorms

We have been very lucky so far this year in the Lafayette viewing area when it comes to severe weather. The graphic above tells it all. Severe weather in this case is defined as having wind gusts of 58 mph or greater and or nickel-size hail or larger and or having a tornado. The huge ridge of high pressure that allowed the drought to spread into the Midwest not only detoured most of our rain, but severe weather.

If you look back at our past history it is very rare to have both a quiet Spring and early Summer storm season and a quiet late Summer and autumn severe weather season. So yes we are long overdue for some rough weather in more ways than one. I hope I am wrong that this will all catch up to us.

We have been lucky because fronts from the north have not been able to break the huge heat ridge down. But now that we are in late August, some areas in Canada have lost about 6 hours of daylight. This has allowed cooler air masses to really build up. This creates more formidable fronts that willl bring better chances of rain and thunderstorms here in the Midwest. Case in point, you can see what happened last night. Much of the upper Midwest, including extreme northern Indiana was rattled with severe thunderstorms.

That is right some areas across northern Illinois had wind gusts registered near 100 mph or what you would typically see in a category 2 hurricane. Everywhere you see the flags above registered wind speeds of 60 mph or greater. Valparaiso had wind gusts of 80 mph, South Bend and Gary had wind gusts to 60 mph, and there was a tornado reported in Will County. I did a couple of cut-ins and tons of crawls. We did have a tornado warning for Newton County for the second consecutive night, but the good news was the rotation did not reach the ground. Amazingly, we had no storm damage once again here at home.

Today and tonight this could certainly change. This same nasty front that has a history of producing severe weather will move our way. Our weather team will watch it closely for you. Just make sure to have a Plan B, stay alert, and stay tuned to News Channel 18. We will do cut-ins as necessary again tonight. Hopefully the front will slow down and come through late tonight sparing our high school football games and limit our severe weather, but right now it looks like storms will be on the increase by late today and this evening. Here is a map showing the main threats.

We also cannot rule out localized flooding and isolated tornadoes. But right now it looks like lightning and damaging wind gusts will be our main trouble-makers. We will have a nice weekend to look forward to once we get through tonight, so just stay calm and stay positive. I will see you soon hopefully with better news, but either way we are now prepared.

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