May 11, 2003 Severe Weather/Tornado Event

During the early morning hours of May 11, 2003, severe thunderstorms raced across central Kentucky producing straight-line wind damage and several tornadoes resulting in F0-F2 damage. The images below show thunderstorms associated with a few of the hardest hit locations, including Hardin, Mercer, and Hart Counties which all reported tornado touchdowns.


Reflectivity images from the KLVX WSR-88D (located at top of each image-black circle) show the evolution of thunderstorms from 0749-0819 UTC (349-419 am edt) on May 11, 2003. The strongest storms/heaviest rain were occurring within the dark orange/red colors. These storms produced straight-line wind damage across Hardin County, and a tornado near Rineyville in central Hardin County around 0759 UTC (3:59am edt). The accompanying reflectivity image (top right) showed that the tornado was embedded within heavy rain. The corresponding storm-relative velocity image (left) showed the tornadic circulation (couplet within black circle) of green inbound winds toward the radar and red outbound winds directed away from the radar. The tornado produced F1-F2 damage and was on the ground for several minutes.

Low-level reflectivity (above left) and storm-relative velocity (above right) images at 0929 UTC showed a severe thunderstorm over Mercer County in east-central Kentucky (west of Lexington). Although not classic in appearance, this was a supercell storm with a hook echo on the southwest side. Within the hook, velocity data showed a well-defined mesocyclone (rotating updraft; radar located to west-northwest [left] of image) over central Mercer County that was associated with a tornado that produced F1-F2 damage.

Over Hart County in south-central Kentucky (image at left), reflectivity data at 0854 UTC also showed a severe thunderstorm with supercell characteristics embedded within a squall line. This storm produced straight-line wind damage and an F0-F1 tornado near Munfordville in central Hart County.

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