Talk about a wild weather day! Today had all the makings of an active spring day. But it's January! The day began with several hours of strong, even damaging winds. The gusty winds drove the temperature up and helped to break a number of record highs. Then came the strong and severe storms that produced sporadic wind damage across central and eastern Kentucky. The day ended with a second wave of strong winds as the cold front blew through.
Lexington actual set two temperature records today. This morning's low of 61° broke the long-standing warmest low temperature record of 58° from 1890. Record high was shattered by nearly 10 degrees with an official high of 75°. New records were also set in Frankfort and Jackson. Also remarkable, temperatures were close to 80° in far eastern Kentucky this afternoon!
Strong Wind Gusts
There was a sustained period of strong wind gusts this morning through the afternoon. Lexington's Blue Grass Airport reported a gust of 57 mph, and that was before the storms arrived. (The peak gust with the line of storms this afternoon was 58 mph in Lexington.) Wind gusts topped 50 mph at a number of Kentucky Mesonet sites. The second wave of strong winds also packed quite a punch as the cold front crossed during the evening. Boyle County's mesonet site reported a gust of 56 mph. The wind gusted to 61 mph the second time around in Lexington.
It's no surprise that with all of the warmth and wind shear that we got severe thunderstorms this afternoon. A line of storms swept through central and eastern Kentucky during the afternoon and into the early evening hours. Damaging winds were the primary threat, but some twisting and rotation also couldn't be ruled out. Following the storms there were numerous wind damage reports. From downed trees and power lines to roofs being peeled back to an overturned mobile home in Madison County. The report came in from Charlie Norris Road outside of Waco in eastern Madison County. Two people were inside. One was injured. There was a Severe Thunderstorm Warning in place for damaging wind gusts and possible rotation. Above is the velocity from the Jackson radar site as the severe storm blew through Madison County. There are signs of some weak rotation. The darker green would indicate the wind trying to move away from the radar and the brighter green towards it. The National Weather Service will have to do a survey to determine the exact type of damage - straight-line wind or tornadic. The weather service in Louisville hasn't announced if they plan to do a survey or not yet.
*UPDATE* The National Weather Service conducted a survey and determined that the damage along Charlie Norris Road was the result of 80 mph straight-line winds.