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Severe Weather Likely For Louisville Area Today

The Louisville area is braced for another round of severe weather today.

The National Weather Service says severe thunderstorms are likely this afternoon and evening and could produce damaging winds, large hail and possible tornados throughout the area.

Cooler conditions are expected for the rest of the weekend, with highs Saturday only in the upper 40s.

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Mild Winter Brings Welcome Respite and Mixed Blessings

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This winter could to go into the books as one of this region’s milder cold weather seasons.

The moderate conditions have been a welcome relief to most, but a mixed blessing to some.

You might think south Louisville hardware store owner Mike Girard has been taking a financial hit with slower sales this season of snow shovels, ice melt and sleds, but after 36 years in business, he’s accustomed to seasonal ebbs and flows.

“You can get the big spurts and have two or three or four days of weather and once you’re out of the stuff, you’re out of it, and that’s it. And usually it goes back to below par. So, while you’ll get a good spurt sometimes, in the long run, we’d much prefer to have a couple of months of mild weather and go straight into spring,” Girard said.

Girard says the drop in sales of winter items has largely been offset by a brisker business in building materials to contractors taking advantage of more outdoor work days.

So what’s causing the unseasonably mild winter? Meteorologist Tom Reaugh with the National Weather Service in Louisville says it’s the result of a cooling of waters in the eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean, an event better known as La Nina.

“Typically, when we’re in a La Nina, the Ohio and Tennessee valleys experience winters that are warmer and wetter than normal. And indeed we’ve seen quite a bit warmer than normal temperatures this winter and a resulting lack of snowfall as well,” Reaugh said.

The Louisville area can get more than 15 inches of snow over a given winter, but the biggest storm of this season struggled to leave an inch on the ground, much to the dismay of sledders and snowman builders.

Jefferson County Public Schools shut down for two days this academic year because of weather, but that was in August, when high winds caused some power outages.

While Louisville’s Public Works Department has applied hundreds of tons of salt to roadways in anticipation of several snow events this season, spokeswoman Lindsay English says that’s a drop in the bucket compared to most years.

The department projects a savings of about $3.5 million, money that will help pay down the city’s budget deficit. Now, crews are getting a head start on road improvements.

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Local News

Rainfall Records Set In Parts Of Kentucky

From Kentucky Public Radio

Kentucky cities such as Louisville and Paducah have set records for rainfall this year. Eastern and southern parts of the commonwealth haven’t received history-making precipitation, but have still recorded significant amounts.

John Jacobson, the chief meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Jackson, cautions against reading too much into the causes of above-average rainfall.

“Like in 2004 there was a lot of severe weather that year and I think there was a tropical storm that came nearby, in a front nearby that brought a lot of heavy precipitation, so there’s all kinds of different things that can result in a pattern of heavy rain, it’s not just any one thing all by itself,”
he said. “Lot of times we’re looking for soundbites, like this is El Nino or this is La Nina and answers like that, but usually it’s much more complicated than that because the atmosphere is getting reactions from all over the globe.”

Lexington is close to joining the record breakers. The city is about two inches shy of tying the mark set in 1935.

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Heavy Rains Prompt Flood Alerts

A flood watch has been posted for the Louisville area, as heavy rain is expected to continue through tomorrow morning.

The National Weather Service says local rainfall amounts could exceed two inches, with higher amounts to the north, where flood warnings are in effect for about a dozen counties in southern and central Indiana.

Motorists are advised to avoid driving their vehicles in areas where water covers the roadway.

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Local News

Temps Not Record-Breaking But Heat Warnings Continue

The National Weather Service is predicting the heat index for Louisville to be mostly in the triple digits for the next week. While we won’t experience record-breaking temperatures, this is expected to be the longest heat wave Louisville has experienced this year.

National Weather Service meteorologist John Gordon says the combination of high temperatures and a high pressure system means more air quality alerts. He also notes this is the time of year when high school sports teams often start practicing. “I worry about the football players going out, the runners, people working in construction, it’s pretty unpleasant. They cannot drink enough liquid.”

Gordon echoes advises citizens to “wear a lot of sunscreen, drink a lot of liquids, protect the pets and animals, the elderly, and the young.”

The coolest day out of the next ten should be Monday, with a high of 88 degrees.

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Kentucky Oaks Today: Traffic and Weather Together

With Derby officials predicting a good turnout for the races and other festivities, here’s the all important reminder about traffic. As is the case every year, there are plenty of street closings. As they say, know before you go.

Look here for road closings and no parking areas.

Look here for information on items allowed or disallowed at the Derby.

The outlook for rain has improved for Oaks: the National Weather Service forecasts a 30% chance of rain today, with the best chance in the morning hours. It should be partly cloudy this afternoon with a high of 69 degrees.

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Flooding Possible Amid More Rain

The National Weather Service in Louisville says additional rain predicted for this week could cause additional flooding.

Erin Rau with the National Weather Service says up to two inches of rain could fall today and tomorrow (Monday and Tuesday) and that could exacerbate conditions in flood-prone areas that are not near the Ohio River.

“We actually have another wave that’s gonna enhance precipitation later this afternoon and then into tonight,” Rau says “so areas that have saturated grounds are prone to flooding to there is a possibility that there could be some additional flooding of roads with this next wave.”

Even with the rains, the river is expected to continue receding.

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River Likely to Top 33 Feet Friday

Heavy rain tomorrow is expected to exacerbate flooding in Louisville, but the full effects won’t be seen until later in the week.

National Weather Service hydrologist Mike Callahan says rain will fall off and on tonight  and pickup tomorrow shortly after sunrise. It will continue throughout the day, bringing enough water to raise the Ohio River to 33 and a half a feet, more than ten feet above flood stage. But, Callahan says the rise will happen slowly and likely peak Friday.

“Actually, the river might drop a little bit between now and then. Just an inch or two,” he says. “That heavy rain is going to push it to 33. Right now the river is running about 30 feet.”

Callahan says the river will recede very slowly. Flooding is worse downstream of Louisville.

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Severe Weather Expected to Last Until Early Evening

Severe weather is expected for the next few hours in Louisville and southern Indiana.

A cold front is moving east and pushing an unstable air mass through the region. National Weather Service meteorologist Brian Schoettmer  says the storms will likely last until about 4:00 this afternoon.

“The main threats we’re expecting will be damaging winds along with heavy rains and of course lightning. You can’t rule out an isolated tornado embedded in the line of storms,” he says.

Wind gusts could be as high as 45 miles per hour during the most severe parts of the storm. After it passes, Schoettmer says rain and weaker winds will continue. The cold front is not predicted to last long. Highs will be in the low 50s Tuesday and in the low 70s Wednesday.

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Local News

6:30am Weather Update: Strong Winds, With Storms Likely Today

Strong winds continue in the Louisville Metro this morning, with gusts as high as 25-30 mph. The National Weather Service has issued a wind advisory until midnight tonight. Forecasters say wind gusts could be as high as 45 mph at times.

A strong low pressure system will move across the Great Lakes today, dragging a cold front through the metro area. Ahead of this cold front, there’s a moist and moderately unstable airmass which could set the stage for severe storms in Louisville and southern Indiana this afternoon and evening as the front passes.

The main thunderstorm threat will be widespread damaging winds… associated with a strengthening squall line. The prime areas will be in Kentucky east of Interstate 65 in the late afternoon and early evening. An isolated tornado and large hail are possible as well. Heavy rainfall with widespread 1 to 3 inch rainfall amounts appears likely.

We’ll keep an eye on the situation throughout the day.

National Weather Service Special Weather Statement