Expected storms latest in wild weather pattern

Jan. 29, 2013 @ 11:48 PM

Weather-wise, 2013 has been brutal to Sevier County, and the inaugural month will end on a now-familiar note.

The area has experienced inclement rain, snow, ice and many combinations of the three, which have caused flooding, washouts, partially or wholly destroyed roads, icy roads and landslides. Today we add high winds to the list of hazardous January conditions.

National Weather Service Meteorologist Derek Eisentrout of the service's Morristown location said a cold front that moved in overnight, was expected to bring strong straight-line winds of 20-30 mph, which could increase to 25-35 mph by morning.

"Winds will increase across the area, followed by a line of showers and thunderstorms that will move through the area in the morning and afternoon," Eisentrout said. "The main threat of severe weather will be straight-line winds."

As of Tuesday afternoon, the weather service had issued a high wind warning for the Smokies and a wind advisory for the rest of the county.

Eisentrout said winds could reach 30-45 mph as the front moves through, and thunderstorm gusts could exceed 60 mph in some areas.

Unlike the most recent storms that lingered for days, the storms will move quickly, but they still pose a threat of flooding in low-lying areas, and wind-related damage could be seen across the area.

Eisentrout said it's possible that the area could experience tornadoes, but that scenario is unlikely given this system's straight-line winds.

"It's a fairly quick-moving front; it's going to move across the entire area in one morning and afternoon, but it's a pretty strong front," Eisentrout said.

Temperatures will remain in the mid-60s Wednesday, but Thursday temperatures will drop to the mid-40s.

Eisentrout said temperatures likely will not reach 40 degrees Friday, predicting a high in the upper 30s. Snow is unlikely in the valley, but possible in the higher elevations.

"There's a little chance of snow going in overnight Thursday to Friday morning, but it doesn't look like a lot of moisture so don't look for much accumulating, except maybe in the higher elevations," Eisentrout said.

rhargett@themountainpress.com