South-Central KY's Top 10 Weather Events of 2009

A look back at our area's most significant and memorable weather events of the past year.

 

Can you believe we are entering into another year?  Where did 2009 go?  I now realize life moves MUCH faster when you become a father (it really is true what they say!).  But at least I have a chance to slow down long enough to take a look back at the year that was.  Every year when I post my "Top 10", there is often one word that comes to mind when describing it.  For 2008, I thought the most fitting adjective was "wild", for that year included one of our worst tornado outbreaks in decades.  The word for 2007 was "extreme", especially in the wake of the drought and that summer's searing heat.  What am I thinking best sums up 2009?  WET!!   Four of the Top 10 weather events for this past year mention "wet" or "wettest".  I don't have to tell you how damp 2009 it was--the high number of cloudy days and days with precipitation are something you probably took note of--but #2 on my list features an impressive stat on how wet it was.  In some other years my #2 might be #1.  Ahh, but something happened in January that trumps them all.  Something VERY big...

Chris Allen (our weather director) have both rated 15 events, choosing five "honorable mentions" followed by our Top 10.  First, here are my honorable mentions followed by my "Top 10":

HONORABLE MENTIONS:   

--Smiths Grove tornado on June 11th

--EF2 Tornado in Monroe County on October 9th which came on the heels of an EF0 in Breckinridge County the night before (luckily both hit in very rural areas with no injuries reported)

--Two twisters touching down in Christian County April 10th, one being an EF3 near Crofton (again, both hit in very rural areas which limited damage and no injuries were reported)

--Brief late night tornado on July 30th in northwest Allen County along Cemetery Rd just past Warren County line (no injuries or major damage)

--Severe weather outbreak on March 28th which produced EF0 near Ready in Grayson County (no injuries or major damage)

SHANE'S TOP 10:

10.  STORM SPOTTER INJURED IN CHRISTIAN COUNTY NEAR HOPKINSVILLE FROM EF0 TORNADO.   It's worth noting this incident happened on the same day as the catastrophic flood on the west side of Louisville (August 4th).  At least the spotter's injuries were not major, but it goes to show that even a "weak" tornado is not that weak at all.

9.  LOW OF 3 DEGREES IN BOWLING GREEN ON JANUARY 16TH.  While not a record for that date (not even close), this was significant in that it was our coldest temperature since January 20, 2003, the last time BG saw a sub-zero reading. 

8.  JUNE 16TH SEVERE WEATHER OUTBREAK FEATURING WIDESPREAD DAMAGING WINDS.  This was a busy afternoon for us in the First Alert Storm Center, one that gave us our most significant outbreak of the season in terms of the number of spots reported wind damage.  Debris from downed barns was strewn about the Louie Nunn Parkway, shutting both lanes down for a time.  The automated sensor at Bowling Green's airport recorded a 60mph wind gust that afternoon, with numerous trees and power lines downed.  Thankfully, no one in our area was injured.

7.  7TH WETTEST JUNE ALL-TIME.  Perhaps it's just coincidence that BG's 7th wettest June would rank 7th, but there's no doubt it certainly belonged in the Top 10 in my eyes.  Our rainfall total for that month was a soggy 7.92" 

6.  5th WETTEST JULY ALL-TIME.  The wet pattern that had already established itself over our region in the spring stretched well in summer.  Bowling Green's rainfall total here was 8.89".  This leads us to...

5.  4TH COOLEST JULY ALL-TIME:  Amazingly, the mercury only cracked 90 degrees in BG on two occasions this month, with a mean temperature of 74.5, some 4 degrees shy of normal.  The unusual number of cloudy, rainy days was the culprit.

4.  3RD DRIEST NOVEMBER ALL-TIME ON HEELS OF 4TH WETTEST OCTOBER.  Things can turn around in the blink of an eye in this part of the woods.  October is "supposed" to be our driest month, but instead we wound up with 7.63" of rain, not too far from the October record of 8.38" set just two years prior in '07.  November behaved more like October, with a paltry 0.88". 

3.  DAMAGING WIND EVENT ON FEBRUARY 11TH.   A strong area of low pressure over the Great Lakes was wound up like a top on this date, creating some big-time wind gusts in KY that reminded many of the remnants of Ike in September '08.  A wind gust to 70mph (almost hurricane force) was clocked at the campus of Western Kentucky University.  These winds resulted in some downed trees and power lines along with scattered power outages.  Of course, many in the area were already without power for another reason, and we're getting closer to it. 

2.  9TH WETTEST YEAR ALL-TIME FOR BOWLING GREEN.   Our city's precip total for 2009:  59.65".  That is more than 8" above normal.  That puts the capital "S" in Soggy!

And now (drum roll)...my number one weather event for South-Central for 2009:

THE JANUARY ICE STORM

This is one that will be talked about for many years, make that DECADES to come.  This was the costliest natural disaster in Kentucky's history, one that required Governor Steve Beshear to call up the state's entire Army National Guard for assistance.  States of emergency were declared in 92 of KY's 120 counties.  Some 1-2" of ice (mostly freezing rain) accumulated over parts of western and northern KY, and while Bowling Green was spared the brunt of this one (freezing rain changed to rain fairly early in the event), areas along the Western Kentucky Parkway bore the worst of this epic storm.  Nearly three dozen lives were blamed on this storm, many from traffic accidents but some from hypothermia.  Practically every tree in western Kentucky sustained some sort of damage, with many completely destroyed.  The scenes looked like a winter wonderland, but for those that lost power for days (and, in some cases, weeks) afterward, that wonderland quickly became a nightmare.  At the height of the storm, over 700,000 homes and businesses across the state were without electricity, and many had no phone service.  Shelters for storm victims were busy places in the two weeks following this event.  Some spots in Muhlenberg County did not see a restoration of power until four weeks after the storm! 

Those are my picks.  Now let's hear from Chris:

HONORABLE MENTIONS: 

--June 11th Smiths Grove Tornado

--EF2 in Monroe County on Oct. 9th on heels of EF0 in Breckinridge County on Oct. 8th

--Two tornadoes in Christian County on April 11th

--Late-night tornado in NW Allen County on July 30th

--Severe Outbreak on March 28th featuring and EF0 near Ready in Grayson County

--EF0 in Christian County on August 4th that injured storm spotter

CHRIS' TOP 10:

10.  WIDESPREAD DAMAGING WIND EVENT ON JUNE 16TH

9.  2-4" OF SNOW ON MARCH 12TH.   This one did not make my top 10, although I can see why Chris thought to include it in his.  After all, it was our only real significant snowfall at any point in 2009. 

8.  LOW OF 3 DEGREES ON JANUARY 16TH

7.  7TH WETTEST JUNE ALL-TIME

6.  5TH WETTEST JULY ALL-TIME

5. 4TH COOLEST JULY ALL-TIME

4. 3RD DRIEST NOVEMBER ALL-TIME ON HEELS OF 4TH WETTEST OCTOBER

3. 9TH WETTEST YEAR ON RECORD FOR BOWLING GREEN

2. DAMAGING WIND EVENT ON FEBRUARY 11TH

And (drum roll again), his number 1 weather event of 2009 (surprise, surprise):

THE JANUARY ICE STORM

So I guess it's true we may have some disagreements here and there, but it's obvious what took the cake this year.  Let's hope an event of that magnitude is NOT repeated anytime soon!

That does it for 2009.  Coming over the weekend will be my next post, one that counts down the top 10 weather events of the past decade in South-Central KY.

Happy New Year!

Shane

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