Severe weather possible in Harlan County

Published 4:31 pm Tuesday, April 2, 2024

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The National Weather Service in Jackson has issued a severe weather and flood warning for an area including Harlan County. The notice was updated at 6:18 a.m. this morning.

According to the National Weather Service website at, severe weather is possible in the area. The primary window for such activity is from noon until 11 p.m. on April, 2, with weaker thunderstorms possible earlier in the day.

Harlan County Emergency Management Director David McGill talked about the severe weather threat in Harlan County.

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“We may have severe weather anywhere from 2 p.m. until 11 p.m. today,” McGill said. “Some of the things we are potentially looking at are high winds, damaging hail, and the possibility of tornadoes.”

McGill pointed out that while many people believe tornados are not possible in Harlan County, that assumption is incorrect.

“Tornados can develop anywhere,” McGill said. “That’s something we always need to be prepared for, but another possibility is straight line winds.”

McGill explained straight line winds can pack just as devastating a punch as a tornado, with comparable windspeeds causing major damage.

“The fact of the matter is straight line winds can cause just as much damage, there’s just not a rotation happening,” McGill said. “The windspeeds can be the exact same.”

McGill mentioned it is important to keep the possibility of severe weather in mind.

“We always need to be weather aware, especially with a situation such as today,” McGill said. “Have a couple different ways to get weather alerts.”

McGill noted ways to receive weather alerts include a weather radio, Harlan County’s mass alert telephone system, television, radio, and internet sources such as the Harlan County Emergency Management Facebook page and the National Weather Service website.

“If we have a tornado warning, seek shelter in an interior room,” McGill said. “Have those places identified now, don’t wait until the warning comes. You need to know as early as possible where to go and how to get there.”

McGill said it is important to be in shelter when the event begins. Do not wait to take shelter.

If caught outside or in a car when severe weather such as a tornado hits, seek shelter immediately.

“You never want to get in a drainage ditch or under a bridge or anything like that,” McGill explained. “If you don’t have someplace sturdy to go, then you want to lay flat in an open ditch and cover your head.”

As of this writing, Harlan County is at enhanced risk of severe weather.

“We are monitoring the weather,” McGill said. “We’re in contact with our partners at the state and local level. We are also taking this time to review our plans to make sure everything is being done.”