The value of the Kentucky Mesonet was demonstrated again last week as high winds and a squall line swept across the state.
“A well-placed network like this helps take our state to another level in monitoring weather conditions and responding to localized events,” said Mike Grogan, lead systems architect for the Kentucky Mesonet.
Wind gusts in excess of 50 mph were recorded at 17 of the network’s 20 stations on Feb. 11 with two of the other three reporting gusts of 49 mph, Grogan said. Half of the sites in the statewide environmental monitoring network recorded gusts of 58 mph or higher (or 50 knots) which meets the criteria for a wind warning, he said.
The Kentucky Mesonet provides data to the National Weather Service, statewide media and emergency management offices. During events like Wednesday’s, the Mesonet and other groups participate in a computerized messaging system for rapid communication of severe weather hazards, Grogan said.
“Though we are building a research-quality network, situations like this really help highlight the operational role of a network like we’re building in Kentucky,” Grogan said.
The National Weather Service used the Mesonet data along with reports from its weather stations, weather spotters, media and other sources to alert the public about severe weather and as part of the official report on weather events.
While a squall line caused some of Kentucky’s high winds, the winds were mostly caused by what are known as gradient winds, Grogan said. On Wednesday, Kentucky was caught between two weather systems- a low pressure system tracking toward the Great Lakes and a high pressure system off the east coast.
Wednesday’s high winds also were a problem in areas of Kentucky still recovering from a recent ice storm and where many trees are weakened by the ice and utility crews are still working to restore power, Grogan said.
“In a non-convective wind situation, a network like the Mesonet is what you need to accurately measure wind at the local level,” he said.
Here’s a list of maximum gusts recorded Feb. 11 at Mesonet stations:
Morehead (Rowan County) – 67 mph
Madisonville (Hopkins County) – 62.7 mph
Columbia (Adair County) – 62.5 mph
Hopkinsville (Christian County) – 61.8 mph
Owenton (Owen County) – 60.4 mph
Frankfort (Franklin County) – 60.2 mph
Hartford (Ohio County) – 60.1 mph
Princeton (Caldwell County) – 58.2 mph
Barbourville (Knox County) — 57.7 mph
Shepherdsville (Bullitt County) – 57.6 mph
Jackson (Breathitt County) – 57.4 mph
Murray (Calloway County) – 56.7 mph
Scottsville (Allen County) – 56.0 mph
Lexington (Fayette County) – 55.9 mph
Stanford (Lincoln County) – 55.3 mph
Bowling Green (Warren County) – 54.5 mph
McKee (Jackson County) – 53.2 mph
Leitchfield (Grayson County) – 49.4 mph
Liberty (Casey County) – 48.6 mph
Russellville (Logan County) – 43.0 mph
For information about the Mesonet data, contact Mike Grogan at (270) 745-4569 or Stuart Foster at (270) 745-5983.