Early on the morning of Tuesday, January 17, 2012, a powerful squall line swept through southern Indiana and central Kentucky along a sharp cold front. Small circulations developed along the line, resulting in nine known tornadoes, mostly across southern Indiana and northern Kentucky. The Louisville metropolitan area appeared to be at the center of the tornado activity, with four tornadoes occurring within or just outside of the city.
Radar loop of the squall line charging across the region (Click on image for looping GIF):
In total, there were 9 confirmed tornadoes that occurred across portions of Southern Indiana and Kentucky during the event making it the most prolific tornado event ever recorded during the month of January across this portion of the Ohio Valley.
...EF-1 Tornado in northeast Jefferson County and Oldham County Kentucky...
Start time: 11:12am EST
End time: 11:21am EST
Wind speed: 95mph
Path length: 8.2 miles
Path width: 250 yards
Narrative: The tornado touched down near the intersection of I-264 and Brownsboro Road. The tornado tracked northeast to near the intersection of Hurstbourne Lane and Brownsboro Road where it briefly lifted. The tornado then reformed and crossed I-265 and continued to the east-northeast through several subdivisions north and northeast of Fincastle. The tornado crossed into Oldham County, moving through Orchard Grass Hills and lifting at the northern tip of Clore Lane. Damage indicators along the path of this tornado included multiple softwood trees down, minor shingle damage to homes, a side wall downed in a large indoor tennis facility, and a barn roof collapse.
An injury occurred as the tornado crossed I-265 when two semi trailers were blown over. The driver of one of the trucks was injured.
Click on the image below to see a map track:
Below is a radar picture taken when the tornado first touched down. The bright green colors indicate air moving towards the radar (which is located at Fort Knox), and the bright red colors show strong winds moving away from the radar. When those two colors are close to each other, they imply that rotation exists at the interface between the opposing airstreams. The yellow line we plotted on the image shows the eventual track of the tornado. (Note the weak rotation beginning to form just north of Okolona, which would go on to become the tornado that struck near Fern Creek.) Click on the image to enlarge.
Here a couple more radar pictures, taken from a local radar near Mount Washington. We've zoomed in on northeast Jefferson County. In the picture on the left the radar is showing intense rotation just inside the Watterson, at an elevation of about 1900 feet. This rotation would spin down to the ground about a minute later, forming the tornado that went along Brownsboro Road. Again we have annotated the radar picture with the eventual tornado track. In the picture on the right, note how far back in the rain the tornado is located, and how the "reflectivity" (the yellows and greens) aren't really all that impressive -- no big areas of red or pink showing up. This is typical with small tornadoes that spin up in squall lines.
The following image is a still from a video shot by Rebecca Durham, who was near the intersection of Goose Creek Road, facing towards Brownsboro Road (click on the image for a larger version):
For detailed tracks and damage photos of all 9 tornadoes that occurred on January 17, 2012, CLICK HERE.
Images and information courtesy Louisville National Weather Service
While winter time tornado outbreaks are rare, this event serves as a reminder that they do occur. It may not be coincidental that later that same winter two more outbreaks occurred across our area including the now infamous March 2, 2012 event. More on that a bit later.
WDRB Meteorologist Jeremy Kappell
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