May 14, 1995 Bow Echo/Tornado Event

During the early morning hours of May 14, 1995, a cluster of convection evolved quickly into an intense severe bow echo that raced eastward across north-central Kentucky. The bow cut a swath of major wind damage with widespread straight-line winds over 60 mph with maximum reported gusts around 100 mph. In addition, at least two tornadoes of F1-F2 intensity occurred along the bow as well, associated with mesovorticies along the leading edge of the line. The strong straight-line winds downed many trees and power lines, and damaged or destroyed numerous buildings and other structures. Over 10 million dollars of damage was reported in one county alone (1995 dollars). Below are a series of Doppler radar images from the NWS Louisville (KLVX) WSR-88D showing the bow echo as it raced eastward.

 A series of 0.5 degree base reflectivity images show the evolution and movement of the severe squall line over north-central Kentucky on May 14, 1995. The most intense wind damage was along the leading edge of the bow apex (where the line was bulged out eastward the most). This occurred over Hardin, Bullitt, and Nelson counties. The red (blue) color on reflectivity denotes the heaviest (lightest) rainfall. The image at bottom-middle shows some of the important features of this bow echo, including the bow apex (along and just north of which typically receives the highest straight-line winds), tornado location (along the storm's leading edge just north of the apex), weak echo channel (WEC; often denotes a pulse of intense winds rushing from back-to-front through the line and typically associated with wind damage along the line's leading edge), and an outflow boundary (the leading edge of strong winds associated with the squall line). The 0.5 degree storm-relative velocity data image (bottom-right) showed a mesovortex (well-developed deeper mesovortices can be termed mesocyclones as in this case) associated with a tornado that produced F1-F2 damage over Bullitt County, in addition to intense straight line wind damage. The velocity image also showed strong rear inflow over Hardin and southern Bullitt counties (red shading) coincident with the WEC in reflectivity data (bottom-middle image). The radar site at Ft. Knox is identified on the velocity image.

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