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Ohio Severe Weather Awareness Week: LIGHTNING

Although lightning can occur throughout the year, most of us experience lightning in the spring, summer, and fall. That’s when thunderstorms are more common in east-central Ohio.

(*) ALL THUNDERSTORMS GENERATE LIGHTNING by definition. If there is no lightning, there’s no thunder, so no thunderstorm.
(*) Lightning IS NOT considered when determining whether a storm is severe or not. Only hail and wind factor into severe thunderstorm criteria.
(*) Lightning can strike you several miles away from a thunderstorm.
(*) Lightning can kill you several different ways. An indirect lightning strike can be just as deadly as a direct strike.

On average, about 25 people are killed each year in the US due to lightning. Many more are severely injured. Simply stated – lightning can kill you. But, there are precautions you can take to protect yourself when thunderstorms threaten.

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OHIO LIGHTNING STATS
Last year (2016) the National Lightning Detection Network counted 254,059 lightning flashes over Ohio. That count is less than our average of 388,237 per year. Ohio is ranked 19th in the number of cloud-to-ground lightning strikes in the US. The state averages 9.4 lightning strikes per square mile in any given year.

The full lightning report for all 48 states and the District of Columbia (PDF). The NLDN does not cover Alaska and Hawaii.

Ohio is in the top five states of people hit by lightning since 1959 and has remained in the top ten during the last decade. Ohio’s latest lightning fatality occurred last year when 8-year-old Noah Stutzman of Jefferson Township in Coshocton County was struck while bringing in a barn on August 10, 2016. It was Ohio’s only lightning fatality last year.

MAKING LIGHTNING
Basically, lightning is a giant electric spark. The electric charge builds up over time as air and particles within the air collide. Air acts as an insulator between the positive and negative charges that build up between clouds or between clouds and the Earth. When the charge difference becomes great enough the air insulator breaks down allowing a rapid discharge of electricity – LIGHTNING.

WHEN THUNDER ROARS, GET INDOORS
Lightning is dangerous. It can kill you. And, if it doesn’t kill you instantly, it will totally mess you up. Very few people walk away from a direct or indirect lightning strike.

Quite frankly, if you hear thunder you’re in danger of being struck by lightning. Lightning can strike ten miles away from a thunderstorm. If you hear thunder, get to a safe building or structure. A vehicle also works as a safe place.

Two-thirds of all lightning deaths are associated with outdoor activities. If you do a lot of outdoor activity – hiking, outdoor sports, fishing, etc – the national Weather Service recommends you carry a lightning detector. These little devices will alert you when lightning is detected within a certain radius – before you hear thunder. They’ll give you plenty of extra time to get to a safe shelter or your car.

We have a lot of agriculture here in the Tuscarawas Valley. A safe farmer would have a lightning detector when they’re out working in the field.

LIGHTNING DEATHS BY ACTIVITY
NOAA and the National Weather Service compiled this list of the 12 deadliest outdoor activities in relation to lightning:

03-22-lightning-activities

Notice that golf is at the bottom of this list. Many people wrongly think golfers account for the most lightning fatalities. At one time, that was true. However, during the past 10 or 15 years, golf organizations have made great strides in getting the danger threat out to players. The result is an astounding decrease in the number of lightning deaths and injuries related to the sport.

Kudos to the golf industry and organizations.

‘HEAT LIGHTNING’ IS NOT A THING
I often see folks telling me of heat lightning, but there is really no such thing. What some call heat lightning is just lightning from a far off storm. On a nice clear night, distant lightning can be seen for a hundred miles or so. But, the much weaker sound energy (thunder) never makes to that far. Most of the time you can’t hear thunder for much longer than ten miles.

It’s kind of a pet peeve of mine. Lightning is just lightning. Nothing else. It can vary in strength, but strong or really strong, it’s still lightning.

03-23-nws-heat-lightning

MORE INFO

(*) NWS Lightning Safety Home Page
(*) Lightning Safety Awareness Week: NWS Wilmington, OH
(*) The “Inconvenient” Truth about Lightning Safety.
(*) Lightning and Thunderstorms: Ohio Committee for Severe Weather Awareness

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Tons of sun and warmer temps today; A few showers early AM Friday will bring warm weekend temperatures

LOCAL WEATHER HIGHLIGHTS: High pressure will maintain abundant sunshine with temperatures warming to around average today. The warming trend continues through the weekend with rain becoming likely on Sunday. Chances for showers will continue into the first part of the work week.

WEATHER HAZARDS: There are no weather hazards anticipated over the next 72 hours.

TODAY:
Sunshine and warmer temperatures will dominate today’s weather over east-central Ohio. High pressure will shift east toward the Atlantic setting up a more southerly flow that will pump warm air into the region this afternoon.

High temperatures this afternoon should reach the mid 50s in most Tuscarawas Valley neighborhoods.

03-23-ndfd-day1-temps

With a very dry atmosphere in place, clouds will be hard to come by. We may see a few passing cirrus this afternoon but any real cloud increases will hold off until this evening with the next approaching weather system.

FRIDAY AND SATURDAY
NOTE: There are changes in the short term forecast from yesterday.

A fast moving disturbance will cross tonight increasing the chances for a few light showers pre-dawn Friday. The atmosphere is very dry and it will take some time for moisture to overcome the low dew points and allow for rain to reach the ground. Even then I wouldn’t expect much more than a couple hundredths of an inch out of this.

03-23-nam-26hr-ptype

Showers will end quickly Friday as the disturbance shifts east as a warm front migrates north and firmly entrenches east-central Ohio in warm air. Tomorrow should turn out to be a cloudier day than today but it’ll still be a nice spring day.Temperatures will warm well above average and we’ll get

Temperatures will warm well above average and we’ll get in to the mid 60s Friday afternoon – AND THAT MAY BE ON THE LOW END. Depending on the cloud-to-sun ratio, we could inch into the upper 60s.

03-23-ndfd-day2-temps

Low pressure will approach from the west Saturday but recent model runs have slowed this system up. Saturday will turn out to be a cloudier day than Friday but I think it will take until late in the day and toward evening before moisture becomes high enough for any rain begins.

SUNDAY THROUGH WEDNESDAY
Moisture will eventually overcome the dry air Saturday night and rain showers will become likely overnight and into Sunday as the low pushes a cold front our way. Showers will remain in the forecast Monday with the cold front lingering across the region.

A second low pressure system brings a better chance for rain on Tuesday before high pressure brings dry weather for Wednesday.

Temperatures Sunday and Monday will remain warm with highs in the mid to upper 60s. We’ll turn a bit cooler on Tuesday and Wednesday behind the cold front.

LONGER RANGE
Long range ensemble and climate forecast models keep a warm and above average temperature pattern going at least over the next 10 to 12 days. The climate modeling does signal a cooler period entering the picture around the first to second week of April.

03-23-ecmwf-15day-temps

For now, though, let’s just enjoy the warm spring temperatures.

TUSCWEATHER WEATHER RADIO GIVEAWAY
There’s only one more day left to get your contest entry in for our weather radio giveaway. I’ll draw the lucky winner tomorrow at noon, so head on over to our contest page and get your name in the bucket.

contest-graphic-300w

JE

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Ohio Severe weather Awareness Week: FLOODING AND FLASH FLOOD

Flooding is a ‘thing’ in the Tuscarawas Valley. We’ve had many over the years, mainly because we have so many communities along the Tuscarawas River. But, we also have a ton of streams and creeks that flow into the river and these flood occasionally too.

03-22-nws-flash-flood-reports

But first, let’s know the difference between a ‘flood’ and a ‘flash flood’. They’re actually two different things and have different impacts.

FLOOD: An overflow of water over dry land. It’s usually caused by rising water in a waterway such as a RIVER, stream, or in some cases even a drainage ditch. Flooding is usually a long term event lasting days and sometimes weeks.

FLASH FLOOD: Flash floods are caused by heavy rainfall over a short period of time – generally less than six hours. They often occur within a short period of time of a heavy rain event, or when a levee or dam fails. Ice jams and debris in a river or stream can also dislodge and create a flash flood. A flash flood can be very dangerous and contain torrents of fast-moving water that sweeps everything in its path. They can tear out the banks of waterways and erode streets and highways. Flash floods last a shorter time.

WHO NEEDS TO BE FLOOD AWARE?
Floods and flash floods can happen anywhere. It is THE most impactful weather event in the country. Flooding is especially a concern if you live in a low-lying area or near a river or stream. Even small waterways such as culverts, or drainage areas along roads can flood.

FLOODING AND FLASH FLOODS ARE DEADLY
Each year more people lose their lives in the US due to flooding and flash floods than any other weather-related event. Over half of flood deaths occur in vehicles when people drive into flooded roads and highways. A majority of these deaths are preventable – just don’t drive into flooded areas on a road.

IT IS NEVER SAFE TO DRIVE OR WALK INTO FLOOD WATER. “TURN AROUND – DON’T DROWN”

If you choose to put your life in danger by driving into a flooded road, remember that you are also putting the lives of your passengers at risk as well as any first responders that may need to rescue you – if they can.

03-22-flood-vehicles

WATCHES, ADVISORIES, AND WARNINGS

(*) FLOOD (OR FLASH FLOOD) WATCH: A Flood Watch is issued when conditions are favorable for a specific hazardous weather event to occur. A Flood Watch is issued when conditions are favorable for flooding. It does not mean flooding will occur, but it is possible.

(*) FLOOD (OR FLASH FLOOD) ADVISORY: A Flood Advisory is issued when a specific weather event that is forecast to occur may become a nuisance. A Flood Advisory is issued when flooding is not expected to be bad enough to issue a warning. However, it may cause significant inconvenience, and if caution is not exercised, it could lead to situations that may threaten life and/or property.

(*) FLOOD WARNING: A Flood Warning is issued when the hazardous weather event is imminent or already happening. A Flood Warning is issued when flooding is imminent or occurring.

(*) FLASH FLOOD WARNING: A Flash Flood Warning is issued when a flash flood is imminent or occurring. If you are in a flood prone area move immediately to high ground. A flash flood is a sudden violent flood that can take from minutes to hours to develop. It is even possible to experience a flash flood in areas not immediately receiving rain.

Spring is prime season for floods and flash floods here in the Tuscarawas Valley. Snow melt, frequent rain, and thunderstorms all contribute too and raise the potential for water issues.

Know your flood risk and have a flood plan for your home and family – especially if you live along the river or you know your neighborhood is flood-prone.

03-23-nws-deadly-flash-floods

MORE INFO

(*) Ohio Flood Information
(*) NWS: Turn Around, Don’t Drown PSA
(*) NOAA Flood Safety
(*) Tuscarawas County EMA: Floods
(*) NWS Pittsburgh: Hydrology
(*) FEMA Flood Map Service Center
(*) Ready.gov: Floods

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Lots of sun but remaining chilly today and cold tonight; Springlike temperatures ahead for the weekend

TODAY’S WEATHER HIGHLIGHTS: Morning clouds will dissipate to bring sunny skies today and clear skies tonight. Cold temperatures today and tonight will moderate into the weekend. Rain chances return by Friday.

WEATHER HAZARDS: No weather hazards are anticipated over the next 72 hours.

TODAY
Yeah. That was snow flurries you saw this morning. The snow won’t stay long and it won’t amount to much of anything. The cold temperatures, however, will stick around for today. Afternoon high temperatures across east-central Ohio will struggle to reach the upper 30s – about 15 degrees colder than average for this time.

03-22-ndfd-day1-max-temp

Clouds this morning will thin out and eventually go away as a large area of high pressure shifts over the region. That will bring a fair amount of sunshine to the Tuscarawas Valley today.

With skies remaining virtually cloud-free tonight, temperatures will plummet to the upper teens to around 20 degrees overnight.

The good news is this cold air isn’t going to stick around long. With high pressure remaining in control on Thursday we’ll have another day of strong March sun. That will help puch temperatures back to near 50 degrees here in the Valley.

Clouds moving in ahead of the next weather system Thursday night will help keep temperatures from bottoming out.

FRIDAY AND THE WEEKEND
A warm front lifts across Ohio Thursday night into Friday morning. That may bring a few showers first thing in the morning. The remainder of the day looks dry, though with a mix of sun and clouds.

03-22-gfs-54hr-ptype

Temperatures Friday and into the weekend will be much much better than today. Temperatures will depend on how much sunshine manages to get through clouds. For now, I’ll go with low 60s but I may have to bump the temp up a couple/few degrees.

A series of low pressure systems will likely keep a wet forecast for Saturday and Sunday. Moisture caught up in the southerly flow will keep the risk for periodic rain showers all through the weekend. The good news is it will not turn cold. temperatures on Saturday will flurt with 70 degrees by the afternoon. Just a little cooler on Sunday with highs in the mid 60s.

NEXT WEEK
Warmer spring temperatures set up shop in the mid range and it does appear that the cold today and tonight might be the last we see of 30 degree temperatures for some time.

03-22-ecmwf-15day-temps

Concern is increasing as signs of severe weather ramp up over the next few weeks – especially in the Plains and Ohio Valley. A more active weather pattern is shaping up that would lead to a more active severe weather season in the coming weeks.

Of couse it’s way too early for any details. This is spring and we all know springtime weather tends to bring more weather activity in the form of severe weather.

JE

contest-graphic-300w

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Ohio Severe Weather Awareness Week: NOAA WEATHER RADIO

Today I’m offering a more personal severe weather awareness story.

About 13 years ago while I was living in North Carolina, 4 kids under the age of 12 perished in a predawn tornado that struck a neighborhood just a few miles from my home. Several additional children and adults were seriously injured by the early morning tornado. Six homes were destroyed – flattened actually.

The National Weather Service office responsible for our part of the county there issued a Tornado Warning 12 minutes before the twister struck. However, because the storm struck during the wee hours of the morning while everyone was still sleeping, no one in the neighborhood heard that tornado warning. None of those poor folks had a clue that a strong tornado would target their community.

My family and I had a weather radio. I bought one a few years before I moved to North Carolina because I was active in ham radio and had taken a Skywarn storm spotter class. I knew a warning was issued because that weather radio alarm woke me in time to get to our safe place.

Although the tornado didn’t touch down in my neighborhood that morning, where it did strike was just a little too close for comfort. The experience really made me aware of how vulnerable we are to Mother Nature – especially when we’re all asleep. I realized in a very personal way what a powerful and lifesaving tool a weather radio is. I am forever grateful for that $35 weather radio.

noaa-weather-radiosThis is the week we’re asked to think about what we can do to better prepare for severe weather. There is no better weapon you can have to protect yourself and your loved ones from severe weather than a properly programmed NOAA Weather Radio.Personally, I think every home should have one as the primary weather warning device. I urge everyone to seriously consider buying a weather radio and programming it for our area.

Personally, I think every home should have one as the primary weather warning device. I urge everyone to seriously consider buying a weather radio and programming it for our area.

Prices start at around $20 to $30. You can purchase them at many big box and electronics stores. Several online stores I’ve seen offer a variety of models. Just Google weather radio and you’ll find tons of outlets offering them.

You might think you don’t need a weather radio because your neighborhood has a tornado siren. Or, you have an ‘app’ on your phone that alerts you when severe storms are in the area. But, there are many problems with outdoor tornado sirens and they’re not meant to be heard inside buildings and homes. Wireless and cell networks are prone to interruption and even failure during severe weather events.These things work even IF the power goes out or your wireless phone network breaks down.

A weather radio will work even IF the power goes out or your wireless network breaks down.

You wouldn’t dream of not having working smoke alarms in your home. A weather radio works much like a smoke alarm – only for severe weather. It will wake you in time to get your family to the basement when severe weather threatens the area. Most importantly, it will wake your family when danger threatens when you’re most vulnerable – at night when everyone’s fast asleep.

I still have that weather radio. I’ve replaced it with a fancier model with more bells and whistles but I keep that original radio as a backup. It’s in a drawer in my home office with the original newspaper that was published the day after that North Carolina storm. The newspaper story includes the photos of the faces of those four kids.

If I were to ever win the lottery or somehow come into a boatload of money, I’d buy every family in the county a weather radio. That’s how strongly I feel about the safety these inexpensive little devices provide.

Don’t be one of those who say they didn’t get the warning after a tornado or severe wind event comes through your neighborhood. If you do one thing this week to prepare for the spring and summer severe weather season, buy a weather radio and set it up in your home. Seriously. They’re $30.

Why you need an NOAA Weather Radio

 

(I do not work or have any financial connection to any company the manufacturers or sells weather radios.)

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Arctic air invades for Wednesday and Wednesday night; Warmer temps for the weekend

TODAY’S WEATHER HIGHLIGHTS: The threat for rain will diminish as a weak cold front exits the area this morning allowing for brief cloud breaks and peaks of sun this afternoon. A stronger cold front will sweep southeast through east-central Ohio tonight and bring cooler temperatures for Wednesday.

WEATHER HAZARDS: No weather hazards are expected over the next 72 hours.

TODAY
A weak cold front brought a few light showers across the Tuscarawas Valley overnight. There wasn’t much associated with this and most areas across east-central Ohio racked up only a couple hundredths of an inch of rain.

03-21-24hr-precip

As the frontal boundary continues moving southeast this morning, we should start to see some breaks in the clouds this afternoon. The front was fairly weak and it won’t make much difference in today’s temperatures. Most neighborhoods will max out around average today.

A second, and much stronger, cold front will drop across Ohio tonight. There is not much moisture associated with this second front, so no rain with it. It will bring a shot of arctic air to east-central Ohio. Temperatures tomorrow across the Valley won’t get much higher than the mid 30s for afternoon highs despite abundant warm March sun in the afternoon.

03-21-ndfd-day2-max-temps

Warm sunshine continues on Thursday and temperatures across the Valley will begin to recover some. We’ll still be cooler than average but sunshine will help push afternoon temperatures near the mid 40s.

WARMER WEEKEND SPOILED BY RAIN CHANCES
The good news is temperatures more in tune to spring will arrive Friday with a warm front. The bad news is rain chances will also be with us through the weekend.

Moisture will slowly increase Friday as an upper level low travels into the Great Lakes region from the Plains. We keep skies mostly cloudy on Friday with a low chance for a shower or two mainly during the afternoon hours. Temperatures on Friday will inch toward 60 degrees for the high.

The warm temperatures continue on Saturday. Temperatures will climb to 66/68 degree range but the chances for rain will also increase. Temperatures on Sunday will be a bit cooler – low 60s for highs. Occasional rain showers will be likely through the day on Sunday.

NEXT WEEK AND THE LONGER RANGE
After our cold bump tomorrow and another smaller decrease on Sunday, spring temperatures highlight the mid range ensembles. Temperatures will continue a slightly above average trend through the end of the month.

03-21-ecmwf-15day-temps

JE

contest-graphic-300w

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Ohio Severe Weather Awareness Week: TORNADOES

Tornadoes get the big headlines but, thankfully, they’re fairly rare here in the Tuscarawas Valley. We’ve had a total of 14 tornadoes touch down in the Valley since 1950, according to official records at the National Weather Service.

03-21-nws-tornado-tracks

Our neighbors in Carroll County have been hit by a tornado only half as many times since 1950 – seven to be exact. BUT folks in Carroll County have been hit by a tornado 3 times in 2013 alone. 2013 brought one tornado to Tuscarawas County – the one that ripped through Mineral City destroying their fire department along with damaging many homes in the area.

03-21-carroll-tornadoes

So, yes, tornadoes, although not all that common in our area, do present a threat. No fatalities have been associated with tornadoes in Tuscarawas or Carroll counties since records began in 1950.

MAKING A TORNADO
Tornadoes develop from severe thunderstorms but not every severe thunderstorm will create a tornado. It takes a special kind of severe thunderstorm known as a ‘supercell thunderstorm’.

Supercell storms develop when warm moist air from the South migrates north and collides with cool North air. These two don’t like each other very much, so when they meet, very strong supercell thunderstorms can develop – not always, but sometimes. Studies indicate that one thunderstorm in a thousand produce tornadoes.

03-21-nws-tornado-formation

It’s important to note that not every low hanging cloud in a thunderstorm is a tornado. Thunderstorms produce a variety of cloud shapes and many of these detach from the thunderstorm and can appear to be a tornado to the untrained eye. I’ve seen a ton of social media posts where people freak out over a ‘scud’ cloud believing that they’re witnessing a tornado.

03-21-scud-cloud

Scud clouds are harmless SLC’s (Scarry Looking Clouds) and very rarely make contact with the ground.

TORNADO WATHCES AND WARNINGS
Just as it is with severe thunderstorms, the National Weather Service can issue watches and warnings for tornadoes. Tornado WATCHES are issued when atmospheric conditions are favorable for tornadoes to form in thunderstorms. And, just like it is with severe storm watches, tornado watches usually include a large WATCH area comprising of several counties.

A WATCH simply means tornadoes CAN form. It doesn’t mean they WILL form. Have a plan in place and know exactly where there is a substantial shelter you can get too quickly in the event of a warning.

A TORNADO WARNING is serious business. A WARNING means that a tornado has been spotted or one has been detected on radar. A TORNADO WARNING means you need to take immediate action to protect yourself and your family. Get to the lowest level in a building, such as a basement. If you don’t have a basement, get to the innermost interior of your home surrounded by walls. Stay away from windows and doors.

YOU OR YOUR FAMILY ARE NOT SAFE IN A MOBILE HOME.

A Tornado Warning is issued for a much smaller area and often include only a portion of a county or counties.

03-21-tornado-watch-warning

KNOW WHERE YOU LIVE
I’ve noticed through my social media activity that way too many people have no idea where they live. They haven’t a clue where Tuscarawas County is on an Ohio map. Worse yet, they don’t know their approximate location on a map of our county.

Weather headlines are almost always issued by county and most weather warnings only include parts of a county. If you haven’t a clue where you are in relation to a state of county map, how in the world do you know if you’re in an area threatened by severe weather. If you’re one who can’t find or don’t know your towns’

If you’re one who can’t find or don’t know your town’s approximate location on a state or county map, your first step in saving yourself and family from danger is to LEARN WHERE YOU LIVE. At least have a general idea of your location on an Ohio map. Type your address in Google maps and you’ll get a zoomable map showing where you are in less than 10 seconds.

STAY INFORMED AND HAVE A RELIABLE WAY TO RECEIVE WEATHER WARNINGS
Your best defense against injury or death from severe weather events – including tornadoes – is knowledge, current information, and a plan. You have many ways to get information instantly – your cell, local radio and TV, the internet. Use them to your advantage and keep up with the latest local weather information.

THE ABSOLUTE BEST WAY to keep informed is with an NOAA Weather Radio. These little radio receivers are programmable for our area and can be completely customized for specific alerts issued by the National Weather Service. They automatically sound an alert when those alerts are issued – DAY OR NIGHT. Many retail stores and online stores have these inexpensive radios starting at around $30.

I’ll discuss weather radios in detail in a later blog this week.

There are also several good weather warning apps available that will sound an alarm. The Red Cross and FEMA both offer free reliable weather warning apps. Just make sure you have the warning criteria set properly for your area and you keep the app active day AND NIGHT.

Local media – TV and Radio – also offer severe weather information. HOWEVER, expect delays in alerts as the headlines are pushed to the outlet. And, what about storms at night? Do you leave the TV or radio on all night? We’re the most vulnerable when we’re sleeping and alerts during nighttime severe weather is critical. While these methodes are great during the day, it would be best to use a weather radio or app for nighttime alerts. Think smoke alarm.

DO NOT RELY ON OUTDOOR TORNADO SIRENS AS YOUR WARNING METHOD!
Many folks mistakenly think outdoor tornado sirens are the best warning idea ever. Not really. Tornado sirens are meant as a warning system for folks who are OUTSIDE – they’re not meant to warn you in your home.

Outdoor sirens are an idea adapted from technology developed during World War II. We’ve come a long way in warning technology since the 1940s. No one – absolutely no one – recommends outdoor tornado sirens as a primary tornado warning system.

03-20-nws-tornado-siren-guide

Simply put – JUST DON’T RELY ON A TORNADO SIREN.

We’ll be discussing more severe weather safety all this week in the blog. It’s been a while since we’ve had to deal with spring and summertime severe weather so take some time this week to refresh your severe weather knowledge.

Knowledge and preparation are our only defense against severe weather. Chances are severe weather will affect you and your family at some point over the next 9 months. Be prepared, not scared.

ANNOUNCEMENT: This is Severe Weather Awareness Week in Ohio. A STATEWIDE tornado drill will be conducted at on Wednesday (03/22) at 9:50 AM (1350 UTC). Your weather radio will alarm with a test message and area communities will test their outdoor tornado sirens. When you hear the warning tones or sirens Wednesday morning, it is a test.

MORE INFORMATION

(*) National Weather Service – TORNADOES
(
*) Ohio Committee for Severe Weather Awareness
(*) Ready.gov – Severe Weather

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Ohio Severe Weather Awareness Week: SEVERE THUNDERSTORMS

WHAT IS A “SEVERE” THUNDERSTORM?
Thunderstorms are just a fact of life in east-central Ohio. They’re a common occurrence all through spring, summer and fall. We even sometimes have thunderstorms in the winter!

But, it takes a special kind of thunderstorm to earn the label “severe”. Knowing what a severe thunderstorm actually is is the first step in keeping your home and family members safe when one threatens our area.

03-20-t-storm

First, it may surprise you to know that the amount of lightning has nothing to do with whether a storm is severe or not. That’s because ALL THUNDERSTORMS CONTAIN DANGEROUS LIGHTNING by definition.

Two important weather factors highlight the criteria for labeling a storm ‘severe’: Wind and hail.

In order for the National Weather Service to issue a ‘Severe Thunderstorm Watch’ or ‘Severe Thunderstorm Warning’ a thunderstorm must either be capable of producing or is producing winds of 58 mph or more AND/OR hail that is one inch in diameter or greater.

Hail this size can damage property such as plants, roofs and vehicles. Wind this strong is able to break off large branches, knock over trees or cause structural damage to trees. Some severe thunderstorms can produce hail larger than softballs or winds over 100 mph, so severe thunderstorm headlines are nothing to ignore.

03-20-tornado-vs-wind

WATCH vs WARNING
Many folks are confused by these two terms, but it’s actually pretty simple to understand the difference.

When a Severe Thunderstorm WATCH is issued by the National Weather Service, it means that weather conditions are such that severe thunderstorms are POSSIBLE. Simply put, a Watch means “watch out – severe thunderstorms might happen today”. A WATCH usually covers a large geographical area – several counties or even a whole section of the state.

03-20-nws-what-is-a-watch

Severe Thunderstorm WARNING is serious and demands immediate action on your part. When a WARNING is issued, it means that a severe thunderstorm is happening or is about to happen. You need to take immediate shelter if you’re outside or get to a safe place in your home or office away from windows and walls. Damaging winds and/or large hail is nothing to mess with.

03-20-watch-vs-warning-graphic

WHAT YOU SHOULD DO IF A WARNING IS ISSUED

At Your House: Go to your secure location if you hear a severe thunderstorm warning. Damaging wind or large hail may be approaching. Take your pets with you if time allows.

At Your Workplace or School: Stay away from windows if you are in a severe thunderstorm warning and damaging wind or large hail is approaching. Do not go to large open rooms such as cafeterias, gymnasiums or auditoriums.

Outside: Go inside a sturdy building immediately if severe thunderstorms are approaching. Sheds and storage facilities are not safe. Taking shelter under a tree can be deadly. The tree may fall on you. Standing under a tree also put you at a greater risk of getting struck by lightning.

In a Vehicle: Being in a vehicle during severe thunderstorms is safer than being outside; however, drive to closest secure shelter if there is sufficient time.

DON’T LET SEVERE THUNDERSTORMS TAKE YOU BY SURPRISE!
Your best defense against ANY severe weather is awareness and preparation. Know how to get weather information when severe weather is possible and have a RELIABLE WAY to receive any updates or warnings.

THE ABSOLUTE BEST WAY to keep informed is with an NOAA Weather Radio. These little radio receivers are programmable for our area and can be completely customized for specific alerts issued by the National Weather Service. They automatically sound an alert when those alerts are issued – DAY OR NIGHT. Many retail stores and online stores have these inexpensive radios starting at around $30.

I’ll discuss weather radios in detail in a later blog this week.

There are also several good weather warning apps available that will sound an alarm. The Red Cross and FEMA both offer free reliable weather warning apps. Just make sure you have the warning criteria set properly for your area and you keep the app active day AND NIGHT.

Local media – TV and Radio – also offer severe weather information. HOWEVER, expect delays in alerts as the headlines are pushed to the outlet. And, what about storms at night? Do you leave the TV or radio on all night? We’re the most vulnerable when we’re sleeping and alerts during nighttime severe weather is critical. While these methodes are great during the day, it would be best to use a weather radio or app for nighttime alerts. Think smoke alarm.

DO NOT RELY ON OUTDOOR TORNADO SIRENS AS YOUR WARNING METHOD!
Many folks mistakenly think outdoor tornado sirens are the best warning idea ever. Not really. Tornado sirens are meant as a warning system for folks who are OUTSIDE – they’re not meant to warn you in your home.

Outdoor sirens are an idea adapted from technology developed during World War II. We’ve come a long way in warning technology since the 1940s. No one – absolutely no one – recommends outdoor tornado sirens as a primary warning system.

03-20-nws-tornado-siren-guide

Simply put – JUST DON’T RELY ON A TORNADO SIREN.

We’ll be discussing more severe weather safety all this week in the blog. It’s been a while since we’ve had to deal with spring and summertime severe weather so take some time this week to refresh your severe weather knowledge.

Knowledge and preparation are our only defense against severe weather. Chances are severe weather will affect you and your family at some point over the next 9 months. Be prepared, not scared.

MORE INFORMATION

(*) National Weather Service – Severe Thunderstorms
(
*) Ohio Committee for Severe Weather Awareness
(*) Ready.gov – Severe Weather

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Mixed wintry precipitation today with rain chances continuing through Saturday; Dry with peaks of sun on Sunday

FRIDAY WEATHER HIGHLIGHTS: A mixed bag of precipitation is expected today as a clipper system crosses the upper Great Lakes. Rain continues on Saturday. Brief dry weather on Sunday before rain chances return again on Monday.

WEATHER HAZARDS: Periods of snow, sleet and possibly freezing rain will be possible today. Little or no ice accumulation is expected.

FORECAST NOTE: This forecast reflects timing changes that have surfaced since yesterday’s forecast.

TODAY
Happy St. Patrick’s Day! There will be lots of green on the radar today.

A little sun and dry conditions across the Tuscarawas Valley this morning, but clouds will begin to thicken by mid morning ahead of precipitation arriving this afternoon. Recent short term models have slowed up the onset of precipitation bring it in a little later in the afternoon. I still expect snow or a rain and snow mix as precipitation gets underway before everything changes over to all rain this evening.

Here’s a look at FutureCast radar through midnight:

03-17-hrrr_2017031710_ref_cleveland

There is also a brief opportunity for spotty freezing rain from around 2:00 pm through 6 pm. Any instances of freezing rain will be short-lived and little if any ice accumulation is expected. (NAM model precip type at 5 PM)

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Rain showers will continue into this evening tapering off after sunset and ending after midnight.

As for any snow accumulating today, don’t expect much if any. Any snow that would happen to stick will be wet and mushy and it won’t last through the rain we’ll get later.

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SATURDAY AND SUNDAY
After a brief lull in precipitation, Great Lakes low pressure will shift east dragging a cold front across Ohio. This will bring the chances for rain and snow showers back in east-central Ohio. Snow plus a mix of rain and snow is a possibility Saturday morning before temperatures warm enough to support all rain by late morning.

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Rain chances will continue here in the Valley until low pressure exits east Saturday night.

High pressure will build overhead on Sunday bringing dry weather along with a mix of sun and clouds. Temperatures will remain about 10 degrees below average through the weekend with highs only in the low 40s Saturday and Sunday.

NEXT WEEK
We keep dry conditions Sunday night and Monday morning. Another little system will approach the region spreading another round of rain showers into east-central Ohio by Monday afternoon. Temperatures, however, will be noticeably warmer with highs in the Tuscarawas Valley near the mid 50s.

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High pressure returns and sets up shop to bring dry weather but cooler than average temperatures through mid week.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

JE

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Colder than average temps today despite ample sun; A messy Friday and Saturday on tap

TODAY’S WEATHER HIGHLIGHTS: After a few snow flurries the morning from a weak disturbance, sunny and dry weather will highlight Thursday with high pressure. Precipitation in a variety of forms will return Friday with a clipper crossing the upper Great Lakes.

WEATHER HAZARDS: There are no weather hazards expected today. A cold front will bring a mixed bag of precipitation on Friday. A brief period of freezing rain will be possible with this system.

Good Friday EVE!

Wind across east-central Ohio will be much calmer today, although a breezy west wind around 10 to 15 will continue. High pressure just to our south will provide clear skies and plenty of sunshine. Temperatures will also recover a bit today and most Tuscarawas Valley communities will see afternoon highs in the mid 30s. That’s still way below the 50/52 degrees we should be for mid March.

03-16-gfs-18hr-ptype

Skies remain clear tonight but cold. Temperatures tonight bottom out at around 20 degrees.

FRIDAY AND SATURDAY
A clipper type system will cross the upper Great Lakes region during the day tomorrow. This system will spread precipitation across east-central Ohio in the afternoon ahead of an accompanying cold front.

The latest guidance trends indicate that precipitation will fall initially as snow with colder air remaining aloft. This will mix with rain and eventually change over to all rain late in the afternoon as temperatures warm.

Some of our modeling develop a pocket of freezing rain to our west that may continue far enough east to affect portions of the Tuscarawas Valley. It will depend on exact timing but there is enough of a signal to include a brief period of freezing rain in the forecast. The window of opportunity will be pretty small and I don’t think it will persist long enough to cause any big problems here in the Valley. I do think the chances for freezing rain are enough to mention, though.

03-16-nam-32hr-ptype

The best chances for any freezing rain here in the Valley will be from around 10:00 am through 2:00 pm. I’m not expecting anything worrisome as far as accumulating ice is concerned.

Rain chances will continue into Friday night until the cold front crosses the region early Saturday morning. Saturday just doesn’t look like a nice day. With temperatures cooling behind the front, any precipitation will change back to snow briefly before daytime temperatures allow for a rain/snow mix during the afternoon. By late afternoon precipitation should change back to all rain.

Rain chances will continue into Friday night until the cold front crosses the region early Saturday morning. Saturday just doesn’t look like a nice day. With temperatures cooling behind the front, any precipitation will change back to snow briefly before daytime temperatures allow for a rain/snow mix during the afternoon. By late afternoon precipitation should change back to all rain.

Temperatures cool off again Saturday night and support another change back to snow showers.

The end result will be little or no snow accumulation here in the Valley and other than the cold rain and breezy west wind, we’ll see little in the way of a winter impact. It’s just going to be a lousy rainy, snowy, slushy, and breezy day – not fit for man nor beast.

SUNDAY AND NEXT WEEK
Waning precipitation chances Saturday night as weak high pressure builds in for Sunday bringing and end to the rain/snow chances. We’ll see some peaks of sun but those temperatures will still be about 10 degrees colder than they should be.

The next system arrives on Monday bringing back the chances for rain mainly during the afternoon and evening. Temperatures warming to around 50 on Monday will keep snow out of the forecast. High pressure out of the Plains shifts east by Tuesday to bring dry weather and sunshine through mid week. Temperatures will remain below average through the first part of the week.

WILL WE EVER SEE ANY SPRING WARMTH?
While March has been cold, we’re nowhere near RECORD cold for March here in the Valley. Folks tend to forget that the month started out with temperatures in the upper 50s – well above average warmth. If we look at all the data, we find that, so far anyway, March has been pretty average so far.

03-16-march-temp-chart

But, yes, temperatures have been well below average the last 5 days. Current ensemble temperature outlooks continue to keep cooler than average temperatures in place through next week. However, there IS light at the end of the tunnel. Model ensembles lean toward a warming trend as we head into next weekend and maintain that trend through the end of the month.

03-16-gefs-16day-temps

So yes, despite the cold air keeping our temperatures cold, eventually the sun will win out as it climbs higher in the sky. As always, spring will eventually overcome winter.

JE

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