Why one Lexington neighborhood could experience higher winds than others

Published: Oct. 31, 2018 at 5:54 PM EDT
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It's an area that sits on the northwest side of Lexington, and there's always damage that shows up from high winds, but why? This is a question that many ask that live in the subdivision.

Masterson Station is one of the largest neighborhoods in the state. It's an area that's had its fair share of wind damage, and for the residents who live there, they share similar past experiences.

"This whole street was like demolished. Trees were like everywhere, shingles off peoples roofs, a tree on my truck," said Susan Clark, a Masterson Station resident.

Around 2,300 homes make up this large subdivision and nearly every home has at least one tree on its property. That's a number that can add up quickly, and it's something residents are concerned about.

"That's why I'm worried about this tree here. Because I'm worried about it damaging my vehicles, or falling onto my home," said Susan.

But for the residents who live here, they certainly believe there are some factors that influence the weather they see.

"I don't know, again, if it's the lay of the land or what it is, but the winds are stronger here it seems to be," said Jason Utterback, a resident who had extensive wind damage.

Dr. William Haneberg, the state Geologist and director of the Kentucky Geological Society at the University of Kentucky believes there is some merit to the idea. Kentucky is one of the few states that has airborne LiDar date (a form of laser scanning) and can show elevation changes in high detail.

"We gradually go up across the park and get into the neighborhood, by the time we get to these orange and red areas, it's just shy of about a thousand feet elevation," said Haneberg.

And it's this elevation difference that could potentially influence winds on a small scale. Research shows wind speeds are usually found at the crest of these hills and this just happens to be where a bulk of the neighborhood is situated.

"Speeds tend to be highest right at the crest of the hill and just on the leeward side of the crest of the hills. So what we can expect is if the wind is coming in from the northwest, across the park area, and up the hill, the highest wind speeds will be right around the crest of these hills," said Haneberg.

From more notable storms like July 20 of this year, March 1, 2017, and other strong wind events dating back to 2001, Haneberg believes this could be something worth looking into.

"We have a lot of houses, we have some trees, maybe the combination of all of those adds up, but still we're at the level of a really interesting hypothesis."