Twenty-four hours after the third anniversary of the tornado outbreak that took nine lives in Bradley County, destroyed almost 300 homes and damaged hundreds of others, area residents find themselves watching the skies again.
On April 27, 2011, as many as five twisters touched down in the Cleveland and Bradley County community, ripping paths of destruction from corner to corner of the county. In some heavily affected neighborhoods, the rebuilding is still taking place.
Although meteorologists are still uncertain as to the severity of storms the local community can expect this time, Western and Southwestern neighbors like Oklahoma, Missouri, Arkansas and the western end of Tennessee are already finding out. However, many of those storms — which have led to tornadic activity, especially in Arkansas — are traveling in a southwest to northeast pattern.
Potential storms being tracked locally that could impact Southeast Tennessee are expected to develop later today and tonight in the Southwest and South.
A flash flood watch has been issued through Wednesday, along with a Hazardous Weather Outlook.
Large hail could also be a threat and according to National Weather Service forecasters, “There is a good deal of uncertainty how this system will develop.”
A strong cold front, coupled with moisture ahead of it, will move into the region. Forecasters are predicting 4-6 inches of possible rainfall in East Tennessee.
Temperatures are expected to remain in the 70s through midnight. Humidity levels will also be high during the storms expected this evening.
Increasing wind speeds will be more noticeable this afternoon.
Two weather events potentially could strike Bradley County — beginning this evening and then re-developing Tuesday around the 8 a.m. rush hour, according to NWS data.
“We will have an NWS weather briefing later today and continue monitoring the impending events,” said Cleveland-Bradley County Emergency Management Agency Director Troy Spence.
“Bradley County and area residents should always pay close attention to any severe weather watches, which can quickly be upgraded to warnings,” he said.
CBCEMA Administrative Assistant Curtis Cline said residents should monitor news outlets and social media. If anyone has not signed up for NIXLE alerts, they should do so by visiting www.bradleyco.net and following the links to the CBCEMA website, officials said. NIXLE alerts will be sent to cellphones and email addresses.
“We won’t be sending severe weather watch information after 10 p.m., unless the watch is expected to escalate into a warning,” Cline said. “Typically, we will send Severe Thunderstorm Warnings or Tornado Warnings after that time if needed.”
Spence said area residents should review their family’s Emergency Preparedness Plan as well as make sure emergency kits are in place.
“Make sure cellphones are charged, extra batteries for flashlights are available, your weather radios are working properly and you have a strong battery for portability,” Spence said.
“We have tips posted on our website that will provide useful information to make sure you are prepared,” Spence said.
“It’s also a good idea to make sure your fuel supply is available for vehicles and generators. Those residents who use well pumps to supply water should have bottled water on hand,” he added.
“The bottom line is, please pay attention and make every attempt to be prepared,” Spence said earlier today.