Severe Weather Outbreak Likely Out West: KC Must Monitor This Closely Tonight

Good morning bloggers,

A Severe Weather Outbreak Is Likely

From The Storm Prediction Center:  “An Outbreak Of Severe Thunderstorms with tornadoes, very large hail, and wind damage is expected to develop across parts of the southern and central plains from this afternoon into this evening and overnight. Strong long-track tornadoes will be likely from parts of central and southern Kansas southward into western Oklahoma. Large hail and wind damage will also be possible outside of these areas across parts of the southern and central plains.  A severe threat is also expected across parts of the lower Great Lakes region late this afternoon and early evening.”

Kansas City Weather Time-Line:

  • Now-8 PM:  Staying dry with light winds this morning increasing from the east and southeast this afternoon at 10-15 mph.  High: 78°
  • 8 PM – Midnight:  Thunderstorms begin forming near a warm front which will be near KC. Thunderstorms will be increasing overnight with severe weather possible. The main risk type is damaging winds and large hail, but we can’t rule out night time tornadoes at this time.
  • Midnight- 6 AM:  A round of strong to severe thunderstorms is likely.  Very heavy rain will fall from the thunderstorms that may produce damaging winds and hail.
  • Friday:  The rain may shut down for a little while in the morning. There is still a chance of more thunderstorms, however.  There is a better chance of strong to severe thunderstorms firing back up later in the day into Friday night.


This map above shows the surface map as of 7 AM this morning.  The storm is just beginning to organize and a lot has to happen before the severe thunderstorms erupt. There is still an old circulation around yesterdays storm. Moisture was pulled off to the east, but it is already beginning a surge back to the west this morning.  Conditions will be coming together for the outbreak later today. Right now we will be monitoring these developments closely.

Tornado Climatology:

KS daily Tor freq

Today is May 18th and we are near the peak of tornado season. This shows the Daily Kansas tornado frequency 1950-2009.  As the graph indicates, mid to late April through mid June historically has the highest tornado frequency, with the peak occurring around May 22nd-23rd with over 160 tornadoes occurring over that two day period since 1950. Notice the sharp drop-off by mid to late June. This is due to the jet stream (storm track) and associated strong vertical wind shear shifting north, affecting mainly the northern tier of the country through the rest of the summer. This effectively shuts down the Kansas “tornado machine”, as the hot, “dog-days” of summer set in. Notice the secondary minor peak in tornado activity October-November, when the onset of winter battles with the relatively mild fall airmass still in place across the region.

KS hourly tor freq

This next graphic shows the most likely time of the day for tornadoes. It is rare, but not unheard of, to have night time and early morning tornadoes. The least likely time for a tornado in Kansas is around 8 AM.

Potential Flooding From This Storm:

The models are continuing to come in with high precipitation amounts that would lead to some flooding.  The latest NAM and GFS model runs have 2 to 5 inch amounts near Kansas City. Flooding will be one of the more serious risks. How will Friday set up? This is something we will look deeper into later. Right now, let’s see how today pans out.

We will be monitoring this closely on 41 Action News today and tonight. Meteorologist Gerard Jebaily is heading out with Storm Tracker and we will track this risk as it approaches Kansas City tonight.  Have a great day and we will keep you updated.


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