WHEELING, W.Va. (WTRF) — You’ve felt it before.
It’s a muggy summer day, when suddenly the clouds start to swirl overhead.
It isn’t long before a few drops of rain fall and the wind starts to blow, as one of Mother Nature’s most terrifying displays of power begins.
And we’re just about to hit peak season for it.
“Here in our area, we can actually, if we are going to get a tornado, it’s usually kind of early summer, believe it or not.”Dr. Kevin Law, West Virginia State Climatologist, Marshall University professor
With West Virginia’s broad geographical reach, Dr. Kevin Law has seen the worst of summer impact the state differently.
Thanks to a warmer ground and colder upper atmosphere this time of year, tornadoes can whirl in an instant.
The twisting and turning of the mountains leave certain towns stranded in a watershed.
And we’re close enough to the east coast that hurricanes and their Atlantic water will at least touch Appalachia.
“If you have a hurricane that makes landfall, South Carolina, North Carolina is the natural kind of track that they usually take, kind of sets up to where they could then affect and impact West Virginia.”Dr. Kevin Law, West Virginia State Climatologist, Marshall University professor
Thankfully, with the El Nino weather pattern and its increased wind shear expected this year, Dr. Law doesn’t see an active hurricane season headed our way.
In fact, flooding may not be as much of a concern either as El Nino often makes for a drier than normal season.
He says the Ohio Valley is often spared from the downstate overflow we often hear about.
“Up in the Northern Panhandle, you do have those kind of rolling hills and so forth. But when you go down to the southern part of the state, those hills are really steep and the valleys are really narrow. So all that rain, when it does fall, it goes into these really narrow valleys and it constricts.”Dr. Kevin Law, West Virginia State Climatologist, Marshall University professor
But conditions and predictions are one thing—and precise location is another.
Pinpointing where a tornado hits and where floods are at their heaviest is next to impossible.
“You get three or four inches of rain over a short period of time, you’re going to have some flooding problems.”Dr. Kevin Law, West Virginia State Climatologist, Marshall University professor
While certain weather events may not be quite as likely this year—you know the risk to you and your home better than anyone.
So know your exit routes in case of an evacuation…and keep an eye on the sky this summer.