Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Winter tornadoes are especially treacherous

The powerful line of thunderstorms plowing its way eastward toward the Charlotte region Wednesday afternoon is carrying a real threat to lives and property.

Any doubts about that were dispelled about 11 a.m., when a tornado barreled through Adairsville, Ga., a town north of Atlanta on Interstate 75.

According to early reports, the funnel cloud damaged a McDonalds restaurant and blew dozens of vehicles off nearby I-75.

The timing of this storm system could make it especially treacherous in the Charlotte region.

A few things to remember about these unusual winter severe weather outbreaks:

-- Many of these storms are low-topped.  That is, the cloud tops don't stretch 50,000 or 60,000 feet into the atmosphere, as is the case during warm-weather seasons.  The tops of these storms can be much lower.

-- Because of those low tops, these storms often contain no lightning.  They can roar into an area with little warning, causing considerable wind damage.

-- Because of the atmospheric conditions in these winter severe weather outbreaks, the storms often don't weaken when the sun sets. Overnight storms can remain quite strong, as was the case early Wednesday across Tennessee and Kentucky.

We'll keep you updated on developments during the afternoon and evening.  One trend to watch for is the development of what meteorologists call "discrete" storm cells.  These storms form ahead of the main squall line, and they are often responsible for tornadoes.  There are signs of these discrete cells forming Wednesday afternoon over Georgia, moving east-northeast.


Chad Barker said...

Thanks, Steve for the update!

Anonymous said...

Might as well have spring & summer severe weather in dead of winter because we sure as heck NEVER have winter in NC anymore. Pathetic.

Yes We Will--Obama 2016 said...

We have had a few days of winter, with grass poking through a light dropping of wimpy, wet snow. You can now convert your sled and snow shovel into museum pieces, and try to remember what winter was like in past decades. Your coat will remain almost new for years to come, so I hope you did not waste too much money on a trendy, "northface" one that will go out of style with the next ghetto fad. And, you can plant spring flowers by Valentines Day, and begin swatting bugs soon!