As we continue moving through the cooler fall months, our minds are on the upcoming holidays, cooler temperatures, and the impending snow and ice that comes with the winter months. But it is during this time that our region often sees an increase in severe thunderstorms. When November rolls around in South Central Kentucky, we are more likely to think about the crunching leaves and frosty windshields rather than severe storms and tornadoes. But in some cases, mother nature flips the script in the fall and winter.
Caitlyn French with Warren County Emergency Management says, “A lot of people don’t expect severe weather in the cooler months. They think Fall, okay it’s going to start cooling down. You get into the Winter months, all they really worry about is the snow and the ice and they forget that we see just as many tornadoes in the Fall as we do in the Spring and Winter. Some of our most deadly tornadoes have occurred in February.”
That's exactly what happened earlier this year when an elderly woman tragically lost her life after a tornado tore through Adairsville in southern Logan County. That, however, is only one example. Many areas in southern Kentucky have seen several fall tornadoes since weather record keeping began. When you add in the winter months, however, some counties more than double their tornado total. While these months are traditionally cooler, the transition of warm to cold can be a volatile combination. “We always try and remind people, especially when a system’s going to be coming through, our office closely watches what the National Weather Service and the SPC says, so we try and push that out as soon as we see it coming,” Caitlyn French said.
The difficult part, according to French, is informing the public of the severe potential that exists even in the Fall and Winter seasons, “It’s kind of a balance because you don’t want to desensitize people, but you also want them to know that the threat is still there” she said. The best way to stay safe? It's as simple as staying in the know and keeping an eye to the sky. "Just having a plan, having a way to get alerts, and just trying to always be aware."
And even though we all love to sleep, French has one plea for all of us when it comes to those alerts, "Don't turn them off at night! Don't turn your alerts off at night, please. I've been in that situation where my alerts didn't go off, I woke up to a thunderstorm and we were under a tornado warning."