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Western Kentucky in “significant danger” for severe weather, tornado outbreak, Beshear warns

National Weather Service

Gov. Andy Beshear warned of severe weather predicted to hit the western portion of Kentucky on Friday, with the Jackson Purchase Area in “significant danger” for severe weather, including possible tornadoes, on Friday night.

The Kentucky governor declared a State of Emergency ahead of the severe weather outbreak Friday afternoon.

“If you are in Western Kentucky, you need to be in a safe shelter by 5 p.m. Central Time,” Beshear said in a press release.

“This is the worst forecast I’ve seen as Governor. I am declaring a state of emergency so that we can be prepared. We are taking this very seriously and we need you to take this seriously, too.

Meteorologists advised Beshear it is “probable that we would see long track violent tornadoes” in western Kentucky today.

Western Kentucky, including communities in the Jackson Purchase Area, was devastated by a deadly tornado outbreak in December 2021. Beshear warned this area could be hit by another potential severe weather outbreak yet again.

“This is an area that was hit in December of 2021 by the unimaginable and there is far too high of a probability we will see that again tonight,” Beshear said in a press briefing Friday morning.

While the threat of tornadoes is greatest in western Kentucky, Beshear said most of the state should expect violent thunderstorms later in the day, with strong wind gusts up to 55 miles per hour.

Beshear advised residents to start making shelter plans for possible tornadoes in western Kentucky.

“If you don't have a basement, if you don't have a safe room within your house, make plans now to be somewhere else tonight,” Beshear said.

According to the National Weather Service office in Paducah, much of far western Kentucky, including the Jackson Purchase Area, is under a “moderate risk” for severe weather, meaning widespread severe storms are likely.

The National Weather Service said a severe weather outbreak Friday afternoon into Friday evening is “increasingly likely” in portions of the Mississippi, Ohio and Tennessee Valleys. This outbreak is predicted to stretch from parts of Louisiana into Indiana.

Beshear said he will determine this afternoon whether to declare a State of Emergency.

Hannah Saad is the Assistant News Director for WKMS. Originally from Michigan, Hannah earned her bachelor’s degree in news media from The University of Alabama in 2021. Hannah moved to western Kentucky in the summer of 2021 to start the next chapter of her life after graduation. Prior to joining WKMS in March 2023, Hannah was a news reporter at The Paducah Sun. Her goal at WKMS is to share the stories of the region from those who call it home. Outside of work, Hannah enjoys exploring local restaurants, sports photography, painting, and spending time with her fiancé and two dogs.
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