Dust and strong storms this weekend but not dust storms

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February 07 2021 06:00 pm

CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – The forecast for the weekend (June 27-28, 2020) calls for lots of heat, some strong storms and even some of the Saharan Dust to be in the air, but the focus for area residents in terms of weather risks is on the chance for severe storms, not issues with dust.

Severe Storm Risk Outlook for Saturday – the dark green is Marginal Risk area, category 1 out of 5 for part of the area.

The StormTracker 13 forecast calls for strong storms to develop in the daytime heat to the north of the viewing area in central Ohio and drift to the south over the late afternoon before fading some time in the middle of the evening around the Charleston-Huntington area.

Predictor model output showing storms moving south and east Saturday evening, expected to fade just south of Charleston and Huntington

The main risks from storms on Saturday will be strong winds and the chance for hail. A five percent chance of damaging wind or damaging hail shown on the maps in the brown shading indicates that there is a five percent chance of having that happen within 25 miles of any point within that area. Overall the risk is low but it is not zero.

Damaging wind risk areas as outlined by the Storm Prediction Center for Saturday

The risk for hail is during the late afternoon and evening Saturday and mainly north of I-64 as shown on Hail Predictor.

Hail Predictor shows areas where hail is possible on Saturday afternoon and evening

The tornado risk is not forseen as being an issue in this region but there is a small risk of that in the northeastern section of the U.S. on Saturday.

Tornado risk area for Satuday by the Storm Prediction Center

There are storms projected to come through the area after midnight into regions that did not receive rain during Saturday afternoon or evening, mainly in areas south of I-64. There could be some damaging winds and frequent lightning as well during this time with yet another round of storms possible through Sunday afternoon and evening.

Overnight storms projected by Predictor for Saturday night/Sunday morning in areas mainly south of I-64.

More rain will fall during the day Sunday and there could be more heavy downpours as well especially in the southern and western side of the viewing area. This is where the heaviest rain is projected to fall.

Projected rainfall by Predictor for the weekend

As for the dust coming in from the Sahara Desert, the models show some dust in the higher levels of the atmosphere. Kentucky did issue an air quality warning. The net effect for the bulk of the WOWK viewing area should be hazy skies on Saturday although dust aloft could aid in the development of a dry layer of air above us which can enhance storm downdrafts.

Dust model output for location of dust in the atmosphere n Saturday evening

Out of an abundance of caution, the Commonwealth of Kentucky has alerted residents that there could be issues with air quality. A statement released by the Kentucky Department for Public Health reads:

Kentucky Department for Public Health (KDPH) Commissioner Dr. Steven Stack warned Kentuckians that air quality in the state may be poor this weekend and into next week. An enormous cloud of dry and dusty air that originated over the Sahara Desert will move across the southern United States over the next three to seven days.

KDPH Press Release

Looking at the data for rain chances and the position of the dust aloft as well as U.S. EPA Air Quality forecasts, the higher concentrations of dust should be west of the WOWK viewing area for Saturday as seen below. You can monitor those maps day by day here:

Air quality forecast for Saturday shows the area of concern for sensitive groups is not in our viewing area.
Model forecast for dust concentrations for Sunday when more rain is anticipated in our area

Now is a good time to get the StormTracker 13 weather app so you can get warnings and advisories any time. Simply go here and download it for free. Be sure to enable notifications, and in the SafTNet Alert section, enable all alerts and location services so you can stay ahead of the storms!

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