Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Severe Weather Outbreak Forecasted for Tuesday

The Storm Prediction Center has highlighted a Moderate Risk for severe weather for areas from Nebraska to southern Oklahoma on Tuesday. In that area, a tornado outbreak is possible with a few strong tornadoes and large hail. Eastern Kansas is bearing the brunt of the system, and cities like Witchita are preparing now for potential storms/tornadoes as well as cities like Tulsa and Oklahoma City further to the south. But before those storms developed, a line of storms pushed its way across Missouri. This line became severe just northwest of Kansas City, MO, capable of producing 60 mph winds and large hail. It was severe warned across its entire path through KC and Jefferson City, and is now knocking on St. Louis's western edges. A Severe Thunderstorm Watch has been issued for portions of western and south central Illinois including Springfield, Taylorville, and Effingham as the storms push toward those areas. Numerous cells have also developed across east central Illinois, but those are expected to become severe. If they do reach severe limits, they shouldn't have enough energy to maintain that strength for long. While storms are popping in Illinois, the most severe storms look to impact portions of the Great Plains this evening and then move into areas overnight that have already dealt with severe storms. Spring storms have finally arrived!

Monday, April 18, 2016

20th Anniversary of Illinois' Largest Tornado Outbreak

The 20th anniversary of Illinois' largest tornado outbreak on record will be marked Tuesday, April 19 (the outbreak occurred in 1996). After surveys were conducted, a total of 39 tornadoes touched down across the state causing 74 injuries, one fatality, and a damage estimate in excess of $100 million. Ten of those tornadoes spawned from one supercell thunderstorm that produced an F2 tornado in Jacksonville and F3 strength tornadoes in Decatur, Champaign/Urbana, and Ogden. Before that supercell entered central Illinois, another supercell thunderstorm dropped two tornadoes in Coles County and two more in Edgar County. Both of Edgar County's tornadoes touched down just northwest of Paris. One touched down at 5:10 p.m., three miles northwest of Paris, destroying a barn. It continued east-northeast and damaged six farms in the area, including the destruction of several machine sheds, a couple barns, and grain bins. One residence had moderate roof damage and another had broken windows caused by baseball-sized hail. The tornado lifted at 5:16 p.m. after crossing Highway 1 three miles north of Paris. It was later rated as an F1 tornado with a max width of 440 yards. The other tornado touched down at 5:12 p.m. 1.5 miles north-northwest of Paris, near Cherry Point Rd. and County Rd. 200W, destroying a machine shed. It lifted briefly and touched down again at the intersection of Steidle Rd. and Tucker Beach Rd., damaging a 3-car garage. It continued east-northeast and damaged another machine shed, numerous trees, and a baseball field. At Twin Lakes Park, several benches, trees and a small shed were damaged. It traveled across the lake and flipped a boat lift, before dissipating at 5:16 p.m. This tornado was rated an F0 tornado with a max width of 220 yards. Had this tornado occurred present day, it would have traveled across the parking lot on the Paris High School campus just south of the railroad crossing. Several windows were blown out of homes in Brocton as well as Paris where golf ball-sized hail fell. Information about the tornadoes is courtesy of the National Weather Service office in Lincoln.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Spring Looks to Finally Arrive

After a week of cold, windy, rainy, and even snowy conditions, spring finally looks to make an appearance. Numerous Freeze Warnings have been issued for Edgar County over the past 2 weeks (4 to be exact). Overnight lows have dropped into the upper 20s which has threatened new plant growth. Another warning is in effect for Tuesday night, but hopefully it will be the last since the average last day for a spring freeze (28 degrees) is April 5. Friday evening, there was enough cold air above the surface to allow sleet, snow, and graupel to form.Cloud cover and northwesterly winds have not help the situation any since they have held down temperatures during the day. However, after a rainy and cloudy Monday, the weather looks to improve and go from below average temperatures to above average temperatures. Tuesday looks to be sunny and cool with highs in the 50s, but from there, temperatures are on a steady increase with abundant sunshine. By the weekend, temperatures will be near or above 70 degrees! Long-term forecasts show the jet stream staying to the north which will keep a flow of warm air streaming into the Midwest from the Gulf of Mexico.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Wicked Winds Rip Through Central Illinois

A low pressure system moved across southern Wisconsin Saturday afternoon, creating a tight pressure gradient between it and the high pressure in the Great Plains. If the pressure gradient tightens, the winds will will become stronger as air rushes toward the low pressure system from the high. The National Weather Service issued a Wind Advisory for Edgar County Friday night for wind gusts near 50 mph, but there were times Saturday where sustained winds and wind gusts reached High Wind Warning criteria. The Indianapolis office did upgraded their counties, including Vermillion and Vigo, to the warning late Saturday afternoon. Some of the top wind gusts in central Illinois were 66 mph south of Newman, 62 mph in Springfield, 61 mph in Mattoon, and 59 mph Arcola. These winds, if produced in a thunderstorm, would be warned under a Severe Thunderstorm Warning. Paris's top wind gust was 56 mph at the Edgar County Airport. EnerStar battled power outages in their rural areas most of the afternoon as the winds knocked down trees. Numerous semis, trucks, and trailers were blown off roadways, including one north of Paris on Route 1. 10 miles southeast of Paris, numerous trees were snapped or uprooted, siding was partially blown off a house, and part of a roof was blown off an outbuilding. A dust storm was reported in Shelby County, IL between Shelbyville and Windsor. In Terre Haute, a metal communications tower fell on the old jail and a nearby law office just across the Wabash River. After calming down Saturday night (when temperatures dropped into the upper 20s), the winds picked back up from the south Sunday, but they weren't as bad as Saturday's winds.