Anyone still hoping for a white Christmas in Central Kentucky might have a better chance of getting run over by a reindeer.
A heat wave that has put cities across the South in line to break records for the warmest Dec. 25 on record might also bring severe storms with strong winds, hail or tornadoes to some parts of the region. And a sliver of southwestern Kentucky is in the bull’s-eye for that.
Whether from record-breaking temps or damaging storms, “we’re probably going to have some headline-making weather this weekend,” said WKYT Chief Meteorologist Chris Bailey.
The National Weather Service said a strong storm system over the Plains is pushing in warm, moist air that could result in severe thunderstorms Wednesday afternoon through early Thursday.
Damaging winds over 60 mph, hail 1 inch or 2 in diameter, and isolated tornadoes, mainly across south-central Kentucky, are possible, the weather service said.
“We’re definitely going to have to be paying attention to the weather tomorrow night,” Ron Steve, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Louisville, said Tuesday. “The threat is definitely there for damaging thunderstorm winds.”
Bailey said that even if Central Kentucky doesn’t get severe storms, he expects winds in the 40- to 50-mph range Wednesday afternoon and overnight.
Since the ground is wet, Bailey said that increases the likelihood of damage from falling trees.
The chance for rain and more storms continues on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and beyond.
Highs throughout the rest of the week are expected to be in the 60s and 70s. The weather service said the high on Christmas Day should be around 61 degrees.
“In a nutshell, this is one of the warmest Christmas weeks we’ve ever experienced,” Bailey said.
There could be heavy rainfall late Friday through the rest of the weekend for much of the state. While no widespread flooding is expected, rivers could be swelling by early next week, Steve said.
“We’re just going to have one wave after another bringing some rain chances to the area,” he said. “Easily 2 to 3 inches in some places.”
Greg Carbin, a meteorologist for the Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Okla., told the Associated Press that the storm threat extends from Wednesday into Thursday, and because the weather could occur during the night when people are sleeping, the situation could be even more serious.
“This is not a one-shot, late afternoon Wednesday, boom, you’re done,” he said. “It’s still unfolding, and there’s still uncertainty as to when the greatest threat will exist.”
The Associated Press said the western half of Tennessee, northern Mississippi, much of northern Alabama, eastern Arkansas, parts of northern Louisiana, Western Kentucky, southeast Missouri and the southern tip of Illinois are at greatest risk for severe weather.
Bailey said temperatures later next week should begin to feel more like normal.
“The pattern is trying to flip on us,” he said. “It can only get colder.”
A record holiday?
Here’s a breakdown of the records for upcoming days and a forecast from WKYT Chief Meteorologist Chris Bailey.
Wednesday’s record: 68 degrees in 1970. Forecast: 68
Thursday’s record: 68 degrees in 1964. Forecast: 67
Christmas Day record: 70 degrees in 1982. Forecast: 65
Saturday’s record: 71 degrees in 1942. Forecast: 72
Sunday’s record: 70 degrees in 2008. Forecast: 70