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April 13, 2022 Severe Storms - What We Saw

On April 13, 2022, Southern Middle Tennessee and Northwestern Alabama experienced what surely will be considered one of the more memorable severe weather events in recent times. Widespread wind gusts of 70+mph slammed into the Valley through the mid-evening hours, leaving thousands without power and hundreds more with property damage across the region. Here in Lawrence County, Tennessee (home of our offices), our live, dual-polarimetric doppler radar observed some of the most intense straight line winds we've seen yet on it, and as the line inched closer to town through the 7 o'clock hour, more and more of a suspicious signature embedded within the line - a possible quick-spinning, embedded tornado.

Tennessee Valley Weathers Doppler Radar (Top) compared to the NWS NEXRAD (Bottom) ~7:30pm.

As if hurricane force wind gusts weren't enough - we had all hands on deck paying very close attention to a curl in the line that strengthened as it got closer and closer to our radar - while providing incredibly valuable mid and upper-level data, the nearest NEXRAD (some 73 miles away) just couldn't see the critical lowest level of the atmosphere where tornadoes spin-up and dissipate in mere minutes. Our live radar located at our studios was scanning every 30 seconds at a resolution three times that of the NEXRAD, providing key information that alerted us to this possible tornado as it moved over Granddaddy Rd., and unsettlingly close to town.

Once things settled down, a post-mortem look at our radar data revealed several key indicators that a possible tornado was present during those few moments in Western Lawrence County. Our radar is "Dual-polarimetric", which sounds scary, but is a fairly simple concept - it sends out beams in different orientations, and this allows us to get data from different angles, allowing us to piece together the shapes and sizes of objects we observe. One of it's primary uses is the ability to be able to determine what is rain, and what is not - such as debris being thrown around inside a tornado. On our radar, we saw a hooking rotation shape, and inside that, an area of concern that suggested that it wasn't raining within this shape, but rather was being filled with debris - be it boards, twigs, leaves, or any other of the array of things a tornado could loft.

The following day, April 14, we went out to the area the radar showed this area of rotation and possible debris at, and saw damage that it was doing right as we were watching it move through. Attached below are a few images of damage we observed in this area, along Granddaddy Rd. Damage was also observed in downtown Lawrenceburg, with several power poles and trees falling around town. Remember, tornado or not, these lines of storms are dangerous, and should be treated as such!

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