Oak Hill, WV (WOAY-TV): Monday’s severe weather outbreak was a bust in the Mid-Atlantic, but what did we learn from the event?
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The StormWatch 4 weather team expected widespread power outages from destructive thunderstorms on Monday, but only one storm produced widely scattered damage along and just south of I-64 in our region.
Chief Meteorologist Chad Merrill examined the data closely and realized what was missed was a key component to forecasting an outbreak during driven by strong jet stream winds. A cold front with a relatively strong temperature and dew point gradient was present but the converging winds or subsidence of a jet streak (strongest core of winds in a jet stream) were centered across southern West Virginia during the outbreak.
Storms produced damage and flooding far north (Morgantown), east (I-81) and south (eastern Tennessee and western North Carolina) of our nine county region but not across the Oak Hill-Beckley and Bluefield areas.
Ample atmospheric energy was available for thunderstorm development, but it was “wasted” because of strong convergence aloft, which aided in subsidence and clear skies locally.
The failure of the storm initiation in our region further supported the analysis of mid and upper levels closely on days where strong jet stream energy is available. Historically, late summer fronts require an alignment of instability and favorable for jet stream energy to initiate a large, destructive outbreak.