Friday, April 3, 2015 4:08 PM

Tornado Potential Across Tennessee and Kentucky

Matthew Holliday

A cold front is currently located from Texas through the Tennessee and Ohio Valley and northeastward. A broad surface low pressure system is currently moving from westward Kentucky into Ohio and will continue to strengthen as it moves northeast. In the mid to upper levels of the atmosphere, a couple of features are going to phase together (combine) to further enhance the tornado potential throughout the day.

Temperatures have warmed up across the Deep South into Tennessee/Kentucky as the sun has been able to break through the clouds farther north while cloud cover has been considerable less farther south, allowing even more warming. Moisture is pumping northward ahead of the cold front, and wind shear has continued to increase (an important ingredient for tornado development), particularly over parts of Tennessee and Kentucky.

Low-level wind shear is considerably weaker farther south into northern Mississippi and Alabama but farther north into central Tennessee and Kentucky, it increases substantially. Deep-layer shear is also sufficient for tornado development over parts of Tennessee into Kentucky. The threat will continue to shift eastward over the state as the day progresses.

The area that I am watching most closely for potentially tornadic storms is around Nashville, TN and extending northward into Bowling Green, KY through or just south of Louisville. The threat will initially be slightly farther west but will eventually move east into the mentioned regions. Later today into tonight, the tornado threat will likely shift even farther east, although it will die down as the night progresses. I made a map and posted it below. Although tornadoes could occur outside of this zone, this is the region I’m watching most closely.

I’m keeping a close watch farther south of my threat zone also. Although wind shear is not as sufficient, a tornado or two will still be possible even into extreme northern Alabama and Mississippi. Damaging winds and hail will be bigger threats, but I felt that was worth mentioning.

Firsthand Weather tornado threat map