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This Sliding Bar can be switched on or off in theme options, and can take any widget you throw at it or even fill it with your custom HTML Code. Its perfect for grabbing the attention of your viewers. Choose between 1, 2, 3 or 4 columns, set the background color, widget divider color, activate transparency, a top border or fully disable it on desktop and mobile.
/Ben Garrett

About Ben Garrett

Ben Garrett is a journalist and web designer from East Tennessee's Cumberland Plateau region. He and his wife, Melanie, reside on the edge of the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area outside Oneida, where he is the editor of the local newspaper and she is a fourth grade teacher. The couple have two children, twins Toby and Rachel, and a mutt dog, Scooter, who thinks he's a pedigree. Views expressed here are the author's and none other. Contact: bengarrett at highland dot net.

Gas tax hike becomes reality

Gov. Bill Haslam’s proposed gas tax hike has become reality, passing both chambers of the Tennessee General Assembly on Wednesday.

The proposal, which was Haslam’s signature legislative initiative this year, was once thought to have an uphill battle to approval, but passed the House with 22 votes to spare.

By | April 20th, 2017|Categories: News|0 Comments

Fentress County sheriff faces federal charges

Fentress County Sheriff Chucky Cravens, who resigned last week amid an FBI probe, will face federal charges, as investigators allege that he had sex with inmates.

Information released by the Department of Justice on Thursday indicates that Cravens had inappropriate contact with four different inmates at the Fentress County Jail. Allegedly, Cravens used his position as sheriff to provide additional benefits to three of the inmates in exchange for sexual relationships.

Specifically, the U.S. Attorney’s Office alleges that the sheriff personally transported the inmates from jail to visit relatives, allowed them outside of jail to smoke cigarettes, and provided money to relatives to be deposited in the inmates’ commissary accounts.

By | April 20th, 2017|Categories: News|0 Comments

Much rain possible

It hasn’t been an especially wet week thus far for much of the northern Cumberland Plateau, as unpredictable convective precipitation has focused mainly on areas to our south. But that should change as we get into the end of the week, as a more organized system interacts with the very moist air mass that remains in place across the entire region.

For now, the GFS forecast model indicates about 2.5 inches of rain for the northern plateau through Sunday. But because most of the precipitation will be convective in nature, that’s only a rough baseline number. Rainfall could be much heavier where the stronger storms set up, especially if training occurs — meaning that multiple storms impact the same area.

In its forecast discussion this afternoon, the National Weather Service’s Morristown office pointed out that training could occur Thursday night into Friday, as a cold front moves through the region, because upper level flow will be almost parallel to the frontal boundary.

Rain chances decrease early in the day on Saturday, but then increase again later on Saturday, as the lower level jet increases. Strong thunderstorms are possible Friday and Saturday afternoons, particularly Saturday, and rain chances continue into Sunday as a short wave system rotates around the base of the trough that is going to develop over the region this weekend.

In a hazardous weather outlook posted this afternoon, NWS-Morristown says some storms “could be strong to possibly severe from the mid-afternoon to early evening” on Friday, with the main concerns being quarter-sized hail, damaging downburst winds up to 60 mph, heavy rainfall and lightning. The frontal boundary on Saturday will again produce a chance for strong to severe storms late Saturday afternoon and evening, the NWS said in the outlook, “producing large hail, strong damaging winds, heavy rainfall and frequent lightning.”

The NWS pointed out in the hazardous weather outlook that localized flash flooding is possible late Saturday and Saturday night.

There have been some indications of a cool-down late in the month, but the latest runs of the GFS aren’t depicting this. According to the forecast model, most of next week will be dry before the next system arrives as we get into the following weekend, April 29-30.

By | April 19th, 2017|Categories: Weather|0 Comments

Another legend topples himself

Bill O’Reilly — arguably the biggest name in the history of cable news — will join Bill Cosby on the list of legends whose sexual perversion crumbled the empire they had worked so hard to build.

By | April 19th, 2017|Categories: Pop Culture|0 Comments

Facebook looks to eliminate the smart phone

Along with TVs and a bunch of other stuff:

Facebook is once again putting itself into direct competition with Google and Apple, trying to create yet another parallel universe of apps and tools that don’t rely on the smartphones’ marketplaces. As The New York Times notes, Zuckerberg has long been disappointed that Facebook never built a credible smartphone operating system of its own.

This time, though, Facebook is also declaring war on pretty much everyone else in the tech industry, too. While it’ll take at least a decade to fully play out, the stuff Facebook is talking about today is just one more milestone on the slow march toward the death of the smartphone and the rise of even weirder and wilder futures.

By | April 19th, 2017|Categories: Technology|0 Comments

Who’s next?

Syria. ISIS. North Korea.

Who’s next?

Enrique Peña Nieto might want to start building that wall himself. For better or worse, this president seems prepared to kick tail and take names.

By | April 14th, 2017|Categories: Politics|0 Comments

They weren’t looking

When push came to shove, the death of Jesus of Nazareth wasn’t much different from the birth of Jesus of Nazareth.

For hundreds of years before Jesus was born, the Jewish prophets had told of the impending arrival of a messiah — a savior for a people that had long been enslaved and persecuted. Throughout the Hebrew Bible, the prophets had described not only the arrival of the messiah, but went to great length to detail exactly how he would arrive.

Probably because they were expecting their messiah to be a mighty warrior instead of a meek newborn baby, they weren’t looking for Jesus to be born to a virgin mother in a manger in Bethlehem — even though Isaiah had written 700 years earlier that “the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,” and even though Micah had written that Bethlehem would produce the messiah, and even though various prophets had written that he would be of the lineage of King David, and of the tribe of Judah. And so the king of the Jews was born in relative obscurity.

Around 33 years later, Jesus of Nazareth was arrested, put on trial, convicted and sentenced to death for angering the Jewish priests and leaders by saying things like “I and the father are one,” and “I am the way and the truth and the life,” and “No one can come to the father except through me.” And then he was executed in the manner the Romans reserved for the vilest offenders — crucifixion.

Jesus had told his disciples and followers on several occasions that he would not only be killed for his teachings, but that he would rise again on the third day. He said, “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up.” He said, “For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the sea monster, so shall the son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” According to Matthew, he spent the last six months before his crucifixion telling his disciples that he would be killed, and that he would be raised again on the third day. His prophesies of his own resurrection were so well known that the same Jewish leaders who had him killed had his tomb sealed and a guard placed at the door, believing they could prevent the disciples from stealing his body by doing so.

Yet, on the third day after Joseph of Arimathea cut down his body and prepared it for burial, no one was looking for his resurrection — not even those closest to him. They had seen him heal the sick, they had seen him raise the dead, but it turned out that they still didn’t have enough faith to believe he’d actually return from the grave. Mary, the mother of Jesus, knew better than anyone that her son was exactly who he claimed to be, because she had experienced the miracle of immaculate conception. Yet, on that third morning, she was headed to the tomb with Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James. And they weren’t looking for a resurrected savior. They were carrying burial spices — because the sabbath had finally ended and they were finally free to properly care for Jesus’s dead body. They weren’t looking for an empty tomb. They fully expected to find Jesus’s lifeless body inside.

The birth of Jesus was well-prophesied, yet no one was expecting it. They weren’t looking for him.

The resurrection of Jesus was well-prophesied, yet no one was expecting it. They weren’t looking for him.

And as Jesus ascended into heaven, the angels had another prophecy for the disciples who stood looking mournfully towards the sky: “Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as yet have seen him go into heaven.” The disciples, the Apostle Paul and all the early Christians expected Jesus’s return in their lifetime. But Jesus himself said, “Of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only . . . For in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.” Two thousand years later, those final prophesies remain unfulfilled.

And they aren’t looking for him.

By | April 13th, 2017|Categories: Religion|1 Comment

Trump scores foreign policy victories

Those who have been quick to dismiss Donald Trump as a dangerous and erratic occupant of the Oval Office have to sit up and take note of what has happened in the past week.

First was the White House’s decision to initiate a Tomahawk missile attack on a Syrian air base in retaliation for President Bashar al-Assad’s chemical weapons attack on a rebel stronghold. Second is Trump’s negotiations with China.

Trump spent the presidential campaign wooing Russian President Vladimir Putin and threatening an all-out trade war with China, both of which had dangerous implications for America and were stark reversals of traditional U.S. policies.

Now, Trump has angered Putin and is cozying up to Chinese President Xi Jinping. The leftists who criticize Trump both when it’s deserved and when it’s undeserved are zeroing in on what they see as Trump’s hypocrisy — a reversal of his campaign promises. But considering these same critics heavily condemned his campaign rhetoric as dangerous and foolish, there seems to be enough hypocrisy to go around.

For many of the rest of us, who find Trump’s behavior to be cringe-inducing but remain hopeful that his presidency will move America forward, the events of the past week are reason for cautious optimism.

Forget the conservative warmongers like Pat Buchanan and Matt Drudge, and the opportunistic liberals who have forgotten that President Obama also initiated a cruise missile attack on Syria in 2012. Last week’s actions are not going to ignite World War III, and they aren’t going to put us at danger of Russian retaliation against our interests — not in and of themselves, anyway. The Russian mine field is a dangerous one for the Trump administration to navigate, but it somehow feels better to be on Putin’s naughty list than on his good list. And Rex Tillerson is proving to be the competent secretary of state that he was hoped to be, which increases confidence that the State Department can successfully navigate that mine field.

Unfounded fears of war aside, do not under-estimate the strategic importance of last week’s strike on Syria, with regards to Russia. For all the talk about how cozy Trump and Putin were during the campaign, Russia remains a friend you don’t want to turn your back on if you’re the United States. Putin played the U.S. presidential election to his advantage, and seemed to have growing support for his backing of the al-Assad regime — due in no small part to the Obama administration’s inaction with regards to the civil war in Syria. No one — perhaps least of all Putin — expected Trump to retaliate so swiftly and decisively to al-Assad’s barbaric chemical weapons attack. It was a quick jab to the chin that left Putin off-balance and tilted momentum in the Middle East from Moscow to Washington.

On China, meanwhile, it speaks volumes that Trump appears to be making headway with Beijing. Tuesday’s news that the Chinese have rejected coal imports from North Korea appears to be a positive signal in the White House’s efforts to woo Chinese support for reigning in Kim Jong-un.

Tillerson’s trip to Beijing this week is crucial. If the U.S. can somehow manage to form an alliance with Russia on Syria, and with China on North Korea, while simultaneously launching the early stages of a reformed and strengthened trade agreement with the Chinese, everyone who has been dismissive of the Trump presidency will be silenced.

There’s still plenty to dislike about the Trump administration. But, on foreign policy at least, there is now reason for optimism.

By | April 12th, 2017|Categories: Politics|0 Comments

Warm weather for the foreseeable future

With dogwood winter out of the way, it looks like warm weather is here to stay for a while.

Things can always change, but for now it looks like at least the next couple of weeks will feature above-average temperatures for the northern Cumberland Plateau.

Temps warmed into the low 60s today, and will be about 10 degrees warmer than that tomorrow. After tonight’s temperature drops into the upper 30s, we may not see the 30s for at least the next 15 days…and, based on the current look of the GFS forecast model, we may not see the 40s for at least the next 15 days after tomorrow night.

Temps in the low 70s will be the general theme for the upcoming week, with temperatures warming into the mid-to-upper 70s by the end of the week. After that, the GFS has been very consistent in bringing in the first 80-plus temperatures of the season by Monday, April 17, and it looks like temps in the upper 70s or low 80s may persist for at least a week thereafter.

Again, things can always change, but it looks like the cold snap we saw Thursday and Friday may be it for a while as really warm weather builds in.

By | April 8th, 2017|Categories: Weather|0 Comments

War on democracy? Really?

The Nation is dubbing Republicans’ use of the so-called nuclear option to eliminate filibustering for Supreme Court confirmations a “war on democracy.”

Which makes one wonder if the writer, Ari Berman, has any clue what the definition of the word “democracy” really is.

By | April 6th, 2017|Categories: Politics|0 Comments

Freeze watch issued

The National Weather Service has issued a Freeze Watch for the northern Cumberland Plateau, as well as for the mountains of East Tennessee, from 1 a.m. until 9 a.m. Saturday morning. This comes amid a strong shot of cold air in the aftermath of yesterday’s thunderstorms, which has already resulted in snow falling in the higher elevations and could result in a frost or freeze for many of the rest of us by daybreak on Saturday.

High temperatures didn’t get out of the mid 40s today, and will struggle to get out of the 40s tomorrow. The official forecast from the NWS is for a high of 53 degrees in Oneida, as the rain finally moves out and skies clear. That’s a few degrees warmer than had been expected just a couple of days ago, but it’s in line with what the GFS forecast model is now showing, as it tops us out at 52 degrees.

However, while tonight’s temperature should stay safely above freezing with plenty of cloud cover still around, the absence of clouds will allow for more radiational cooling tomorrow night, which means we could see a light freeze. The NWS is forecasting a low of 31 for Oneida, which is exactly what the GFS model is showing. Most vegetation will be okay at that temperature, but some sensitive plants could be in trouble, including your garden, if you’ve planted one already!

The NWS also has widespread frost in the forecast for Friday night. That will depend somewhat on winds, which are forecast to be between 5 mph and 10 mph Friday night. If the winds lay down, frost will certainly be a concern.

The good news is the warming trend will begin in earnest by Saturday afternoon, and we should be in the 70s by Sunday.

As we’ve seen this week, things can quickly change, but there is currently no chance of frost or freezing temperatures in the forecast for the next 15 days, aside from Friday night, and the first 80s of the season are showing up on the GFS model in about 8-10 days.

By | April 6th, 2017|Categories: Weather|0 Comments

A moderate threat of severe weather today

The threat of severe weather continues to increase for the northern Cumberland Plateau and parts of the rest of Tennessee and the Deep South today, as a strong storm system and accompanying cold front impact the region.

NOAA’s Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Okla., has placed the Cumberland Plateau and much of Middle Tennessee under a “moderate risk” for severe weather today, while a little further east (including Knoxville), an “enhanced risk” for severe weather is in place.

A moderate risk for severe weather means that numerous severe storms are possible. Specifically, there is a 15% chance for tornadoes, a 30% chance for damaging winds and a 45% chance for large hail within that moderate risk area. The SPC also includes a hatched area within that risk zone, which means there is a chance of significant tornadoes and significant hail. Specifically, that means there is a 10% chance of an EF2 or greater tornado, or 2-inch hail or larger.

The National Weather Service’s Morristown weather forecast office says that damaging straight-line winds in excess of 60 mph and hail the size of baseballs is possible as the storms move through this evening. While the NWS places the tornado threat at “low,” it says that isolated tornadoes are possible, and that a strong tornado cannot be ruled out along the Cumberland Plateau.

As for timing, the NWS places the threat within a broad window from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. Parameters for severe weather will gradually increase this afternoon, creating a threat that will persist until passage of the cold front this evening. The SPC says that these parameters will be conducive to the development of supercell storm structures, while low-level shear will increase and become conducive for a tornado threat from about 4 p.m. to 9 p.m.

As is often the case, these storms are expected to weaken as they push into East Tennessee. Once you get east of Knoxville, the threat diminishes significantly. However, this may or may not be one of those situations where the terrain of the northern plateau begins to limit the severe weather potential. The plateau is on the eastern edge of that “moderate risk” zone, and the valley locations just to the east are still within the “enhanced risk” zone.

The NWS is activating its forecast spotters in anticipation of severe weather this evening. Everyone should be aware that while we have had a number of severe weather threats this year that haven’t panned out, we are probably overdue for an outbreak of severe weather. Stay weather-aware today, particularly if you have plans that take you outside. Identify a safe place, like a basement or inner room of your home, that you can go to if severe storms are imminent, and be prepared to move there this afternoon and this evening. If you have a weather radio, use it. Otherwise, stay tuned to your local radio station, TV station or to the National Weather Service’s website at srh.noaa.gov/mrx.

We will all hope that this threat, like so many others, doesn’t pan out. But it never hurts to be prepared.

By | April 5th, 2017|Categories: Weather|0 Comments

Severe weather outbreak possible on Wednesday

There is a growing threat of severe weather across the Cumberlands and much of the rest of East Tennessee on Wednesday.

A strong storm system is expected to develop over the next 24 hours, impacting much of the eastern United States on Wednesday. For the Deep South and much of the Mid-South, that is going to translate into the potential for severe weather.

NOAA’s Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Okla., has placed the eastern half of Tennessee in an “enhanced risk” zone for severe weather on Wednesday. This is the third rung on the SPC’s five-step threat assessment scale for severe weather. Specifically, it means that there is a 30% chance of severe weather within 25 miles of a given point. Additionally, although it isn’t shown on the map below, the SPC includes the entire enhanced and moderate risk zones in a hatched area, which means there is a 10% chance of a significant severe weather episode within 25 miles of a given point.

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So what does all of that mean for us? If you read the language of what the National Weather Service’s Morristown weather forecast office is saying, not much has changed since yesterday, except that confidence has increased that some areas will see severe weather on Wednesday. The primary threats are still damaging wind gusts of 60-70 mph, hail up to golfball size, and the tornado threat is still low across East Tennessee, but the NWS is also saying that “a tornado or two” cannot be ruled out.

The greatest potential for severe weather remains to our south, across a moderate risk area that stretches from about Mobile, Ala., into western South Carolina. This bullseye has not shifted much at all over the past three days, and this still appears to be where things could be particularly rough on Wednesday as this storm system unfolds. Specifically, there is a threat of long-tracked and discrete supercell storm structures, which could produce strong tornadoes and very large hail. If you’re driving through Georgia or Alabama tomorrow to or from the beach as part of your spring break plans, you will definitely want to stay weather-aware.

Here in East Tennessee, it looks like moisture return will be plentiful, which is one thing that seemed somewhat up in the air earlier in the week. That’s the reason for the increased confidence from meteorologists that severe weather can happen here tomorrow. The NWS says that convection will come in two waves tomorrow. The first will be in the morning to the early afternoon, and the severe weather potential is low with that initial wave. Then there will be a greater risk of severe weather as additional storms develop in the late afternoon and evening.

Ordinarily, when you see precipitation early in the day, you hope that has a limiting effect on how much the atmosphere is able to destabilize later in the day. In this case, though, meteorologists believe there will still be sufficient parameters in place for strong to severe storms later in the afternoon.

One thing to point out is that there is still some uncertainty with just how advanced instability will become this far north tomorrow. There is a chance that there could be a relatively narrow plume of instability that develops ahead of the cold front, and the SPC alludes to that a bit in its outlook this morning. That would limit the duration of the severe potential somewhat. However, it should also be pointed out that the SPC does mention a threat for discrete supercell storm development even in the Ohio and Tennessee valleys, which would bring a risk for large hail and “a few tornadoes.”

With that said, the NWS in Morristown continues to rate the tornado potential as low for all of East Tennessee.

As for timing, the NWS places the first wave of precipitation — which should be mostly non-severe in nature — from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. along the Cumberland Plateau, and 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. for the rest of East Tennessee. One thing to point out with the first wave is that it is expected to be primarily south of Interstate 40, meaning the northern plateau may not see much, if any, precipitation tomorrow morning. The second wave, which carries the risk for severe weather, is expected between 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. along the plateau, 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. for the valley, and 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. for the mountains and upper East Tennessee.

One final thing to point out is that, as is very often the case, the NAM forecast model shows the threat of severe weather will begin to diminish as the storms reach the Cumberland Plateau, and continue to diminish as they move across East Tennessee. That might seem odd, considering that it is East Tennessee, and not West Tennessee, the the SPC has placed in an enhanced risk zone for severe weather. But all severe weather parameters on the NAM, including the supercell composite index, the significant tornado parameter and helicity updraft charts, show significant weakening over the plateau, then becoming nearly non-existent further east. Those charts do not tell the entire story, of course; that’s a single model, and damaging wind gusts and large hail, and even storm rotation, can still occur. But it’s something to keep in mind.

The NWS points out that a lot of uncertainty still exists, and it has scheduled another update for 3 p.m. this afternoon.

The bottom line: As has been the case all week, it looks like tomorrow has the potential to be a rough day across portions of the Deep South, particularly across eastern Alabama and much of Georgia. There, discrete supercells are possible, with strong tornadoes and very large hail. Further north, across East Tennessee, confidence is growing that there will be sufficient moisture return to aid destabilization of the atmosphere and increase the risk of severe weather as a cold front approaches late in the day. All modes of severe weather are possible, but the primary risks will be wind gusts of 60-70 mph and hail up to golf ball size. The tornado threat is low, although not non-existent, for East Tennessee. There is still plenty of potential for things to change, as a lot of uncertainty remains.

By | April 4th, 2017|Categories: Weather|0 Comments

A rotten spring break weather week

If you’re on spring break this week and you’re looking for fun in the sun, good luck. A volatile spring weather pattern continues across the Mid-South region with a lot of rain, a lot of wind, a possibility for severe thunderstorms, and then a lot of cold to end the week. Tuesday and most of Wednesday look good, but that’s about it for this week.

The main threat for severe weather will come on Wednesday, although there are some questions about just how much potential will exist for severe thunderstorms here in East Tennessee. Otherwise, it looks very rainy for Monday, very windy for Thursday and also very cold for Thursday and Friday.

Monday

The Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Okla., has our area under a “marginal risk” for severe weather today, as a storm system currently located over Missouri and moving northeast helps to pull a lot of warm, moist air in from the Gulf of Mexico. In a weather impact briefing this morning, the National Weather Service in Morristown says that some severe storms could develop late this morning, with isolated damaging winds up to 60 mph, quarter-sized hail and localized flooding.

For the most part, though, we’re just going to see a lot of rain, as any severe weather threat today should be limited to areas south of Interstate 40. A look at the current radar reveals a lot of rain to come before things begin to taper off later this afternoon, and that’s no surprise, with precipitable water values between 1.5 and 2 inches in the atmosphere. In its forecast discussion this morning, NWS-Morristown mentioned that another round of scattered thunderstorms could develop this evening as the attendant cold front with this system approaches our region. However, the NWS also says that “the severe threat will be very low after sunset.”

Wednesday

The severe weather threat will be greater across the board on Wednesday than it is today, but there are still a lot of unanswered questions. For now, the SPC has all of East Tennessee under a “slight risk” for severe weather on Wednesday, which equates to a 15% chance for severe storms.

As is the case today, the bullseye for severe weather will be to our south on Wednesday. The SPC has an area extending from Mobile to western South Carolina under an “enhanced risk” for severe weather, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see the threat ratcheted up some more between now and then, depending on how this system evolves. There, the SPC says that there will be a risk of storms capable of producing tornadoes, “at least a couple of which may be strong.”

The National Weather Service office in Birmingham, Ala., has mentioned the potential for supercell storms capable of producing long-track tornadoes, large hail and damaging winds, but that possibility seems to be greatest well south of Tennessee; NWS-Birmingham mentions a Selma-to-Anniston line. The SPC also mentions the potential for discrete supercell storm structures for the Gulf Coast states, “accompanied by the risk for large hail and tornadoes.”

However, the SPC points out that more uncertainty exists for the Ohio and Tennessee valleys, which includes our region. In this morning’s update, the SPC points out that “severe storm development sees possible over a fairly broad area,” and includes mention of a risk for discrete supercells from late Wednesday afternoon into Wednesday evening.

In its hazardous weather outlook this morning, NWS-Morristown mentions “widespread strong to severe thunderstorms” Wednesday afternoon and evening, with damaging straight-line winds and large hail being possible with the strongest storms, along with an isolated tornado or two. More specifically, the NWS currently says that the tornado potential is low, with potential for hail up to golf ball size and maximum wind speeds of 60-70 mph.

While NWS-Morristown is expected to have an updated weather impact briefing for Wednesday by 4 p.m. this afternoon, meteorologists there mentioned the uncertainties that exist in their forecast discussion this morning. As the NWS points out, a warm front will push through the region on Wednesday, placing East Tennessee in the “warm sector” of the storm, which always carries an attendant risk for severe weather. There should be enough mid-level instability, wind shear and forcing to create a risk for strong or severe storms, as well. But the NWS points out that the exact track of the low pressure system as it moves across the Midwest, its timing, and whether thunderstorms develop across the Gulf Coast that could inhibit the influx of moist unstable air to our region will all play roles in determining the severe weather threat on Wednesday.

The NWS says that “storm potential should quickly end Wednesday night as a strong cold front pushes through.”

After That

Rain showers look like they’ll continue throughout the day on Thursday and into early Friday. In fact, Thursday looks downright miserable as dogwood winter settles into the region. High temperatures likely won’t get out of the 40s and there will be a strong northwest breeze to make it feel even colder. Thursday looks quite windy, and Friday may not be much better. Temperatures will drop into the 30s at night, and it’s looking increasingly as though we could see a light freeze Saturday morning, before the warming trend begins.

The good news is we should return to 70 degrees by Sunday.

The Bottom Line

In a nutshell, spring break week looks pretty rotten, weather-wise, with a lot of rain on Monday, a threat of strong to severe thunderstorms on Wednesday, and then rainy, windy and cold conditions Thursday and Friday. Tuesday and much of Wednesday look good, weather-wise.

The severe weather potential this week looks to be limited to Wednesday afternoon and evening. We’re currently under a “slight risk” for severe weather, with the primary risks being damaging wind gusts and large hail. The tornado threat is low for those of us in East Tennessee, but cannot be completely dismissed, particularly if discrete supercells manage to develop ahead of the main line of storms. The current best-guess scenario is for a line of strong thunderstorms that will push through the region late in the day on Wednesday, bringing a relatively short-lived window of opportunity for severe weather. But there’s still time for the system to evolve, and there’s a lot of uncertainty revolving around how things will organize on Wednesday. Some of those questions will be impossible for meteorologists to answer until Wednesday gets here. One thing seems pretty certain at this stage, though, and that is that the greatest risk for severe weather will stay well to our south.

By | April 3rd, 2017|Categories: Weather|0 Comments

Update: Severe weather questions for the upcoming week

Regarding the severe weather potential we discussed this morning, the National Weather Service offices in Morristown and Nashville seem even less certain about severe weather potential in Tennessee this evening.

Tomorrow’s threat: The Storm Prediction Center has upgraded a portion of the Deep South (mainly southern Alabama) to a moderate threat risk tomorrow, while an enhanced risk extends all the way from New Orleans to the Carolinas. A slight risk encompasses most of the Deep South but stops at Chattanooga. NWS-Morristown says the strong convection to our south could limit severe weather potential this far north. The primary threat area in Tennessee, according to the NWS, will be south of Interstate 40. “Main threat looks to be winds across most of the area with a small chance for an isolated tornado possible across the southern border counties of TN and SW NC counties,” the NWS says. NWS-Nashville, meanwhile, says that showers that will push through Middle Tennessee tomorrow morning will work over the atmosphere and prevent severe potential in the afternoon, although some thunderstorms could develop tomorrow evening.

Wednesday’s threat: NWS-Morristown says the potential for severe weather on Wednesday could again be hampered by convection further south. NWS-Nashville says strong thunderstorms are possible Wednesday afternoon, particularly in the eastern part of Middle Tennessee. For now, the SPC has our area outlined in a 15% risk area for severe weather on Wednesday.

By | April 2nd, 2017|Categories: Weather|0 Comments

A windy, stormy, then cold spring break

A very active weather pattern is going to continue across the Southeastern United States this week, with multiple chances for thunderstorms, a possibility of severe weather, a lot of wind, and then another shot of cold air.

We’ve experienced redbud winter this weekend, and could experience dogwood winter next weekend.

Today will be markedly different from the last couple of days. At 10 a.m., we’re already approaching yesterday’s high temperature, which was in the low 50s, and the National Weather Service is forecasting a high of 76 degrees in Oneida. That’s because a stout southerly flow is kicking in ahead of the next storm system, which will approach our region on Monday.

Monday

This system will be the first of two potential severe weather makers for the South, but it doesn’t appear that it’ll be much to write home about this far north. For now, the Storm Prediction Center has an “enhanced risk” for severe weather outlined across Georgia, but in East Tennessee there’s only a “marginal risk” for severe weather on Monday. With only marginal severe weather parameters in place, there’s also a question of whether thunderstorm activity along the Gulf of Mexico will cut off severe weather potential further north — much as it did last week — which increases confidence that this system’s primary impact to our region will be a lot of rain, along with a stiff breeze.

Wednesday

Since there won’t be a strong attendant cold front to usher in a change of air masses behind this first system, the stage will be set for another storm system to quickly impact the region, and it looks like that will happen on Wednesday. A southerly flow will create another windy day on Wednesday, with a storm system trekking across the lower Midwest by late in the day Wednesday, which will create the potential for strong thunderstorms Wednesday evening.

For now, the SPC has a 15% risk for severe weather outlined across a large swath of the eastern U.S., extending from central Ohio to the Florida panhandle and including East Tennessee. The agency is already warning that it will likely ramp up that threat over the next couple of days. Early indications are that Wednesday afternoon and Wednesday evening could be particularly rough across portions of the Deep South, including parts of Alabama and Georgia, and if you’re traveling through the Deep South en route to the beach for spring break, you’ll definitely want to be weather aware late in the day on Wednesday. The SPC is mentioning the potential for storm clusters and discrete supercell activity that would support tornadoes and large hail across that region. In fact, the National Weather Service in Birmingham is already sounding the alarm, saying in this morning’s forecast discussion that the European model, taken at face value, would “be looking at the potential for strong to violent tornadoes and giant hail” across central Alabama. However, the GFS model shows a much different situation for those folks in the Deep South, and would result in a much lower severe weather threat for many.

The good news, for those of us in East Tennessee, is that it appears the brunt of severe weather will stay south of us on Wednesday, with more of a line of showers and storms moving through our region late Wednesday evening ahead of the cold front. That isn’t to say that things can’t change; there are 72 hours for this system to evolve. But, for now, the threat certainly appears to be much lower in East Tennessee, with the bullseye for severe weather being from Birmingham to Atlanta (broadly speaking), then shifting to the Mid-Atlantic region. For now, the National Weather Service’s Morristown office isn’t mentioning much in the way of particulars for severe weather in East Tennessee, though it does mention that instability, wind shear and moisture will all be present. The NWS office in Nashville is even more mum about severe weather potential in Middle Tennessee, saying only that the main impact of the system will come on Wednesday night, “bringing with it moderate rainfall in association with scattered to numerous showers and thunderstorms.”

Thursday-Friday

Behind the system on Thursday, winds will remain gusty as colder air moves in. It looks like we may struggle to get out of the 40s next Thursday and Friday, with lows in the 30s, and we could even see temperatures dropping close to freezing by Saturday morning.

Nutshell Version

Rain and thunderstorms are a pretty safe bet on Monday and Wednesday, and there could be a threat of severe weather, particularly across parts of the Deep South. Monday’s threat should be nearly non-existent for us here in East Tennessee, and the extent of the threat further south is very uncertain. Although lots of uncertainty also remains Wednesday, it appears that this second system will easily be the strongest of the two, and the weather could get rather rough across parts of Alabama and Georgia. Here in East Tennessee, we should be north of the brunt of the severe weather threat, though much uncertainty remains about just how the threat will evolve. If I had to guess at this early juncture, I would say we’ll wind up seeing a slight risk for severe weather, with damaging wind gusts and hail being the primary threats — very similar to the threats we’ve seen at least once a week for the past month or so.

By | April 2nd, 2017|Categories: Weather|0 Comments

A slight risk for severe weather Thursday

There is a slight chance for severe weather across the Cumberlands and all of East Tennessee as a line of thunderstorms rolls through ahead of a cold front this evening.

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The severe weather threat has actually decreased for our areas to our west, where the worst of it was expected. Convection across the northern Gulf of Mexico and along the Gulf Coast has cut off moisture advection further north, as sometimes happens, and that will help prevent the formation of supercell structures that could enhance the risk for tornadoes and very large hail in West Tennessee. Still, much of the western half of the state is under an enhanced risk for severe weather.

This far east, we were always expecting a line of thunderstorms with a potential for some damaging wind gusts and hail. The tornado threat and the threat for very large hail was always low in our neck of the woods, and not much has changed here.

In a hazardous weather outlook this morning, the National Weather Service in Morristown says that “damaging winds and hail will be the main threat, but isolated tornadoes are possible. Locally heavy rains are also possible.” However, the NWS adds, “confidence is low on how strong and widespread the storms will be overnight.” That confidence should increase throughout the day today, as the potential impact of these storms becomes clearer. For now, models are showing pretty decent instability, lift and wind shear, which are some of the primary ingredients for severe weather.

In terms of percentages, a “slight risk” of severe weather carries with it a 15% chance for severe thunderstorms within 25 miles of any particular point.

As for timing, it continues to look like the main line of storms will not push through until well after dark tonight. The HRRR short-range model is showing showers developing out ahead of the main line of storms, and those could start as early as late afternoon or evening, but those will be non-severe if they do occur.

The bottom line: A line of thunderstorms is going to approach our region sometime tonight, bringing with them the potential for damaging wind gusts, moderate hail, and heavy rain. The tornado threat is low, but not non-existent, and some models continue to show potential for an isolated tornado or two across the region.

By | March 30th, 2017|Categories: Weather|0 Comments

Severe weather possible Thursday

For the second time in four days, the northern Cumberland Plateau will see a potential severe weather threat develop on Thursday, as a very active spring season continues across the region.

There is still a lot of uncertainty regarding the impact of Thursday’s weather-maker, but the risk for severe weather does appear to be growing, however lightly, for the northern plateau region. As I posted yesterday, NOAA’s Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Okla., only had our area under a “marginal risk” assessment for severe weather. This morning, that has been bumped up some. We’re now in a “slight risk” assessment for severe weather.

Without a doubt, the greatest potential for severe weather tomorrow is going to be to our west. There’s a “moderate risk” for severe weather across West Tennessee, and an “enhanced risk” for severe weather extends well into Middle Tennessee. It’s on that side of the state that supercell storm structures could develop tomorrow afternoon and evening, which would heighten the potential for tornadoes, along with damaging straight-line winds and very large hail.

As is almost always the case, the severe weather threat will be weaker here in the Cumberlands. But there is still a lot of uncertainty.

The National Weather Service’s Morristown office is currently highlighting the potential for nickel- to quarter-sized hail, 50-60 mph winds and a low potential for isolated tornadoes. As far as timing, the NWS says the greatest potential for severe weather will be from 6 p.m. to midnight.

There are several factors that will help determine how tomorrow’s severe weather threat evolves. But with a gusting southwesterly breeze tomorrow as mid-level winds set up over the region, we should see plenty of warming tomorrow, particularly if we see little cloud cover and a lot of sun. That will be of more importance in West Tennessee and parts of Middle Tennessee, where supercell structures are more of a possibility, but it could help beef the threat up somewhere even this far east.

For West Tennessee, the SPC has some tersely-worded input on tomorrow’s threat, saying that “strong tornadoes and very large hail will be possible.” However, where our area is concerned, the SPC also points out that “the eastward extent of low level moisture will be a limiting factor in how far east the significant severe weather threat will develop.” In other words, it’ll be a waiting game tomorrow to see just how much of a severe weather threat develops for us here on the Cumberland Plateau.

For now, it looks like the supercell threat that might develop for West Tennessee will be significantly less here in our region, as the activity devolves into a squall line as it moves eastward. However, that doesn’t mean that severe weather can’t happen, even including isolated tornadoes, and both the GFS and NAM models are showing some potential for severe weather here in our neck of the woods. As for timing, both of those models show the threat holding off until near or after dark for our area. Timing should become much clearer over the next 24 hours.

The bottom line: Tomorrow looks like it could be a potentially rough day for our friends in West Tennessee and parts of Middle Tennessee. Here on the northern Cumberland Plateau, there is a slight risk for severe weather tomorrow, mainly concerning damaging wind gusts and hail, but rotating storm structures that could spin up short-lived tornadoes can’t be completely ruled out at this early stage. There’s much more uncertainty regarding the risk for severe weather here in our area than there is to our west, and questions remain with regard to timing, though it’s pretty much a given that the severe threat will not arrive until after the school and work days are complete.

By | March 29th, 2017|Categories: General, Weather|0 Comments

Strong storms will return on Thursday

We’ve seen multiple instances this spring where severe weather was forecasted for our region and it under-performed. Last night, though, was a bit of an over-performer.

After the day began with the northern Cumberland Plateau region under only a “marginal risk” for severe weather, the Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Okla., eventually upgraded the risk assessment to a “slight risk” and ultimately issued a severe thunderstorm watch as a line of storms approached the region. When the storms struck, shortly after 7 p.m., most of the region experienced little more than torrential rainfall and brief gusts of winds. But it was enough to knock out power for thousands of customers across the area.

That activity has moved well off to the east this morning, resulting in tranquil weather that will remain in place for the next two days and for much of Thursday. But by late Thursday evening, strong to severe storms will again be on the table as a stronger cold front invades the region.

There’s a moderate risk for severe weather over north-central Texas today. The threat will shift eastward tomorrow, from east Texas to the Ozarks, and will then move to the east side of the Mississippi River on Thursday.

For now, the Storm Prediction Center only has our area in a “marginal risk” area for severe weather on Thursday. But West Tennessee is already under an “enhanced risk” area, and the “slight risk” area is knocking on our door from the west.

There are still a lot of uncertainties, however. One of them is timing. Many models are delaying the activity here on our side of the state until after midnight Friday morning. Another is just how conducive the setup will be to severe weather, at least this far east. For now, the primary American models — the GFS and the NAM — aren’t showing anything worth writing home about. But there’s still plenty of time for this one to evolve, so we’ll see what happens.

Frost/freeze watch: Any gardener worth his salt will tell you that you don’t get carried away and start planting too early, no matter how warm it is. But for whatever it’s worth, there are still no frosts or freezes on the horizon for the next 15 days. Of course, that can quickly change — and we’re still well ahead of the average date of our last frost and our last freeze.

By | March 28th, 2017|Categories: Weather|0 Comments

A stormy pattern continues

There is a threat of some strong storms across Tennessee today, although the severe weather potential is rather low here in the Cumberlands. That is a theme that will continue throughout this week and likely next week as well, as a stormy pattern continues across the region.

A shortwave system is currently working its way into the Midwest, resulting in storm coverage across parts of the Mississippi River Valley. That’s where the threat of severe weather is centered today; NOAA’s Storm Prediction Center has West Tennessee under an enhanced risk for severe weather. The primary threats out there are damaging winds and large hail. Storms are likely on this side of the state later today and tonight, but they should not be quite as strong as what our friends out west will experience. The SPC has our region under only a marginal risk for severe weather.

According to the National Weather Service’s Morristown office, the time frame for thunderstorms is 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. The NWS does highlight a potential for severe weather in its hazardous weather outlook, stating this: “Due to the strong winds and cold air aloft, some of the thunderstorms will be capable of producing damaging winds and hail up to quarter size. The potential of severe storms will be mainly across the Plateau, and central and southern Tennessee Valley from late afternoon through the evening hours.”

Again, the threat for severe weather seems rather low — though not non-existent — for our region today.

The bullseye for severe weather shifts well to the west the next couple of days, but will be back in Tennessee by Thursday, as another storm system approaches the region that looks like it could be capable of producing strong to severe thunderstorms. Currently, the SPC has only the western half of the state outlined for a severe weather risk on Thursday, but that has time to change. As for the NWS in East Tennessee, it notes in this morning’s hazardous weather outlook that some storms may become severe across the Plateau and southeast Tennessee by Thursday afternoon and evening.

Between tonight and Thursday, it looks like dry conditions will be prevalent. But what’s happening as these storm systems move through is that they aren’t dragging with them the cold fronts that typically sweep through our region this time of year. Thus, we aren’t seeing the intermittent cool-downs that are usual in late March and early April, but that also means we aren’t seeing a change in air masses. The result is going to continue to be a chance of rain and thunderstorms every few days until the pattern changes. And, for now, it looks like the pattern will continue into spring break week. (But that’s better than the alternative — cold weather — right?)

For now, the next major cool-down — if you can call it that — looks like it might be possible around April 7-9 . . . right on the tail-end of spring break. A relative cool-down is in store for the end of this week, as a weak cold front will follow Thursday’s storms. But highs should still be in the 60s with lows in the 40s. Between now and then, we could push 80 degrees ahead of those storms on Thursday. A week into April, we could see 30s sneak back into the picture, but for now there doesn’t appear to be a threat of frost or freezing weather on the horizon.

By | March 27th, 2017|Categories: Weather|0 Comments