Special Report: Wild Kentucky Weather

By: Brett Baldeck Email
By: Brett Baldeck Email

When it comes to weather South Central Kentucky has seen it all. From rain, to tornadoes and even ice. For more than 50 years the WBKO First Alert Weather Team has been tracking each and every storm.

"February and March of 2012 were very active for us here in South Central Kentucky. It just seemed for like a span of two weeks every other day we were having severe weather. With our AAA Systems weather cameras we were literally able to watch the storms move across our area. Then at the end of the day when we were getting reports of the baseball sized hail out of Adair County and just seeing the immense damage. It was just wow," says Stephanie Midgett.

"Well the January 2009 ice storm was just a significant event for our area, especially the northern portions of our viewing area, mainly because there was so much icing, so much freezing rain. It was a classic over running scenario where you had warmer more moist air running up from the Gulf of Mexico against colder air down at the surface," says Shane Holinde.

"April 16, 1998 was a day that I will never forget because it was literally like the sky was falling. We had a ton of rain, we had hail, tornados and it was all coming together at one time and that made a huge impact on this area," says Chris Allen.

After the Super Storms of 98 WBKO adopted its first local radar. Years later, technology has changed.

"Since then we've even moved beyond that doppler to NexRad and what's called dual poll radar. As the radar technology increases it helps us to tell the story a lot better," says Chris Allen.

While Chris, Shane and Stephanie are working hard on our forecast in Bowling Green at the First Alert Weather Center, a team of meteorologists are also working hard in Louisville to ensure our safety when severe weather strikes.

"One thing a lot of people don't understand is that the National Weather Service is the only agency that can issue flash flood, tornado, severe thunderstorm warnings. Obviously we work very closely with the TV media because they can reach a lot more people than we can," says Warning Coordination Meteorologist Joe Sullivan.

More than 20 meteorologists make up the National Weather Service office in Louisville. Although it was calm during our visit they are the eyes and ears of weather across the state, which can make for some memorable days.

"Since I've been here we've gone through a number of huge events in this area. We had the February 5 and 6 tornado outbreak called the Super Tuesday outbreak. There were 20 plus tornados in Central Kentucky that day," says Sullivan.

One of those tornadoes struck our area in Allen County. Four people were killed, devastation was around every corner.

The number of fatalities could have been much worse. Weather spotters, weather teams near and far and growing technology continue to keep all of us safe even during the most frightening times.

"That's why we train spotters every spring time so they can get information to us. Now with social media it's becoming easier and easier for that to happen," says Sullivan.

To learn more about the weather history in South Central Kentucky, click on the link below this story for the official page at the National Weather Service.


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