Storm update: Jefferson County and other Kentucky areas under tornado watch until 3 a.m.
The National Weather Service has issued a tornado watch for several Kentucky counties, including Jefferson County until 3 a.m. Saturday. Other locations include Bullitt County, Meade County and Hardin County.
Gov. Andy Beshear has declared a state of emergency Friday ahead of severe weather expected to roll across Kentucky overnight.
Beshear closed all state offices at 3 p.m. Central time due to the forecast, which calls for high-speed winds and rain throughout the state, with the worst expected in Western Kentucky and the Jackson Purchase region. The state of emergency also enacts laws to prevent price gouging.
"“This is the worst forecast I’ve seen as Governor," Beshear said in a release. "I am declaring a state of emergency so that we can be prepared. We are taking this very seriously and we need you to take this seriously, too."
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In a Thursday release, the National Weather Service's local office said Louisville faced a "slight risk" of severe weather Friday, with the chance of significant storms higher in Western Kentucky. But by Friday that had been updated to an "enhanced risk," with tornadoes possible in the state's west portion.
The threat should be at its worst Friday night heading into Saturday morning, the release said, with conditions expected to clear across the state before sunrise. Gusty winds between 40 mph to 50 mph are possible as well.
In a Friday update, the National Weather Service said storms should reach Western Kentucky in the late afternoon and move out of the state by Saturday morning. The weather system's strength is expected to decrease at it moves east. High-speed winds will start in the south and southwest Friday and continue into Saturday, with gusts expected that morning.
At a Friday morning press conference, Beshear advised Western Kentucky residents to try to get to shelter by 5 p.m. local time in case dangerous winds in the forecast lead to tornadoes.
"This is an area that was hit in December of 2021 by the unimaginable and there is far too high of a probability we will see that again tonight," he said, referring to devastating tornadoes that ripped through the region more than a year ago.
The Jackson Purchase area is in significant danger tonight. It is probable we may see long-track, violent tornadoes. The largest threat is in the far west and up to I-65, but Central Kentucky can expect to see violent thunderstorms with damaging straight line winds. 1/2 pic.twitter.com/RvYmY6HBjM
— Governor Andy Beshear (@GovAndyBeshear) March 31, 2023
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The threat of thunderstorms depends on how much fuel is in the atmosphere. Warm, moist conditions like sunshine and clouds will increase the chance of severe weather, local meteorologist Brian Schoettmer said Wednesday.
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What's the forecast for Louisville?
Friday night: Showers and thunderstorms likely before 9 p.m., then showers and possibly a thunderstorm between 9 p.m. and 3 a.m., then a slight chance of showers and thunderstorms after 3 a.m. Some of the storms could produce heavy rainfall. Low around 52. Breezy, with a south wind 22 to 26 mph, with gusts as high as 44 mph. Chance of precipitation is 100%. New rainfall amounts between three quarters and one inch possible.
Saturday: Increasing clouds, with a high near 60. Breezy, with a southwest wind 21 to 30 mph, with gusts as high as 46 mph.
Saturday night: Mostly cloudy, then gradually becoming mostly clear, with a low around 33. Breezy, with a northwest wind 16 to 21 mph decreasing to 7 to 12 mph after midnight. Winds could gust as high as 30 mph.
Sunday: Sunny, with a high near 60. Calm wind becoming south 5 to 7 mph in the afternoon.
Sunday night: A 20 percent chance of showers after 3 a.m. Mostly clear, with a low around 47.
This article originally appeared on Louisville Courier Journal: Louisville forecast: Jefferson County tornado watch