Environment

Weather obviously plays an important role in Thunder Over Louisville and thankfully, Saturday’s forecast is sunny and warm. But WAVE 3 Meteorologist Tawana Andrew said of the 30 full Thunder shows since 1990, rain has fallen on half of them. Andrew said rain doesn’t really affect the aircraft but clouds sure can.

“For the show to go on you have to have what’s called a ceiling height of 1,000 feet and a ceiling height is basically how far off the ground the lowest deck of clouds are,” explained Andrew.

“So when the clouds are underneath 3,000 they have what’s called a ‘low show’ so there’s basically not a whole lot of vertical maneuvering going on and you just kind of see more of the simple acts going on during a low show. When you have a higher cloud deck, that allows us to see more of the acrobatic things and that kind of stuff that we love to watch.”

Andrew said event organizers also have to pay close attention to winds. 

“When the wind reaches more than 23 mph that limits what the plane can do during the air show. And it’s not just the winds near the Ohio River that we need to think about. It’s also the wind at the Muhammad Ali International Airport,” she said.

Andrew said if the wind is too strong it limits which runway aircraft can use.

“The fastest planes use the airport’s longest runway and if the wind is too strong, then those longer runways may be unavailable and we may not be able to get to see some of those faster aircraft,” she said.

Learn more about how weather affects Thunder Over Louisville on the latest edition of Science Behind the Forecast.

Bill Burton is the Morning Edition host for WFPL News.