WKU alerts students, staff of potential severe weather


Tucker Covey

A student walks through driving rain ahead of a possible tornadic storm system affecting the south-central Ky. Region on Friday, March 3, 2023. WKU has cancelled all classes from 11:00 am CST onward due to the possibility of dangerous weather.

Molly Dobberstein, News reporter

WKU students were alerted by email on Friday, March 31 of potential severe storms and weather for later in the day and into the evening hours. 

David Oliver, WKU director of environmental health & safety and emergency manager, sent the email at 11:02 a.m., with a forecast from Josh Durkee, university meteorologist and part of the WKU White Squirrel Weather Team.

The forecast includes the WKU area in a level 3/5 for severe weather today and this evening. The NWS-Louisville office has included WKU in a wind advisory starting at 7:00 p.m. through 4:00 p.m on Saturday, April 1.

Anticipated hazards included in the outlook include strong and damaging winds, heavy rain, hail and the risk of tornadoes, with heavy emphasis on damaging winds, according to the NOAA Storm Prediction Center. 

During the day, there is predicted to be multiple waves of rain and thunderstorms, “with the expectation that these *should* remain sub-severe; heavy rain, lightning, gusty winds (20-30 mph),” Oliver said via email. 

Storms are predicted to increase after 5:00 p.m., when evening severe storms are anticipated to begin. Oliver said that storms will be broken into clusters or line segments, posing a somewhat increased tornado risk, as well as storms becoming “hit-or-miss” throughout the evening. 

“The environment most conducive for severe weather will develop after 9:00 p.m. this evening; this is when we will pay very close attention,” Oliver said. 

The all clear window for severe storms is expected to be near midnight to 1 a.m., but students are encouraged to stay aware of strong and damaging winds after storms have passed. The email from Oliver stated widespread 30 mph and sporadic 40 mph winds are expected through Saturday, in contrast to sunny skies. 

Students are informed that travel may cause problems and to be weather aware and plan routes and timing to avoid potentially severe weather. Oliver urged students to make sure cell phones are charged and notifications are on to receive storm warnings.

News reporter Molly Dobberstein [email protected].