Weather threatens to dampen Halloween spirits


Last updated: Thursday, Oct. 31, 2013 - 9:59 a.m.

A wind advisory will take effect across the northern Cumberland Plateau at 4 p.m. Thursday afternoon and continue through 7 a.m. Friday morning, the National Weather Service said Thursday morning.

The NWS issued the wind advisory for the entire Cumberland Plateau, mimicking wind advisories put into place by NWS offices for adjoining regions in southeastern Kentucky and Middle Tennessee. Typically, a wind advisory means sustained winds in excess of 25 mph or wind gusts in excess of 40 mph are expected.

The NWS's Morristown field office, which covers East Tennessee, was forecasting 15-to-25 mph winds with 35 mph gusts, along with a 60 percent chance of thunderstorms Thursday and a 100 percent chance of thunderstorms Thursday night.

The advisory was issued as meteorologists continued to monitor an approaching storm system for severe weather potential. A cold front was positioned from St. Louis to Dallas Thursday morning and is expected to sweep across Tennessee Halloween evening, bringing with it increased winds and storms. Breezy conditions were reported across the northern plateau Thursday morning, with winds expected to increase as the cold front approached later in the day.

The NWS's Storm Prediction Center (SPC) in Norman, Okla., trimmed back its "slight risk" outlook area for severe weather on Thursday morning, including the western half of Tennessee but stopping at the western edge of the Cumberland Plateau.

The primary threat for Middle Tennessee, according to the SPC, is damaging winds.

In forecast discussions Thursday morning, forecasters at the NWS's Morristown field office highlighted the potential for severe thunderstorms Thursday evening due to high winds mixing with storms associated with the approaching cold front.

Timing of the worst of the weather remained in question. The NWS's Nashville field office, which covers Middle Tennessee, posted an infographic Thursday morning forecasting the potential severe weather — which it said could include straight-line winds and isolated tornadoes — to reach the Cookeville-Jamestown area between 9 p.m. and 1 a.m. Thursday evening.

The Independent Herald fielded a number of questions from local residents late Wednesday and early Thursday inquiring about trick-or-treating activities. As of late Thursday morning, local officials were not advising against trick-or-treating. The Scott County Sheriff's Department Thursday morning posted a Facebook message encouraging safe trick-or-treating practices.

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The original story follows . . .

Might mother nature put a damper on Halloween festivities?

Forecasters say she just might.

A strong frontal system is poised to impact East Tennessee Thursday evening, resulting in rain, wind and even a slight threat of severe weather, according to meteorologists.

Forecasters at the National Weather Service's Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Okla., on Wednesday placed most of the Cumberland Plateau and the western two-thirds of Tennessee into a "slight risk" severe weather forecast area, highlighting the potential for damaging winds and even isolated tornadoes as the storm system progresses across the region Thursday from west to east.

"While the primary threat will likely be damaging winds, bowing structures could support tornadoes embedded within the line," SPC meteorologist Jaret Rogers said Wednesday afternoon in an outlook posted by the SPC. "The line should persist overnight into early Friday morning across the Appalachians (and) upper Ohio Valley, eventually outrunning richer low-level moisture and instability, but at least some wind/tornado threat may continue given the magnitude of low/mid-level wind fields."

The National Weather Service's Morristown field office, which covers East Tennessee, was forecasting a 90 percent chance of rain Thursday night, with 10-to-15 mph winds gusting to 20 mph. In a forecast discussion posted early Thursday morning, forecasters there noted that the atmosphere over East Tennessee would remain mostly stable Thursday evening. But, they added, with a strong wind field above the surface, "it will not take much for any storms to become severe."

While rain showers are in the forecast for much of the day Thursday, the timing of the potential worst of the weather — including possible thunderstorms — that could put the greatest damper on Halloween parties and trick-or-treating activities remained in question. The National Weather Service's Nashville field office, which covers the western Cumberland Plateau, said Thursday that the potential severe weather is expected to reach the plateau between 9 p.m. and 1 a.m. Thursday night.

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