Monday, April 27, 2015

Identifying certain cloud features - what do they mean

Welcome to Monday and the start of a much calmer week ahead for us in Kansas. There won't be any severe storms around here through Friday. So we get a chance to catch our breath and maybe catch up on some sleep if storms have kept you up late at night. 

I'm showing some storm pictures we received last week from viewers, and they are much appreciated. Storm cloud features can be confusing and sometimes the names we give to the clouds don't always make sense. So I thought I would showcase a few features here that may help you next time identify what's coming your way. They can be so interesting to watch, but of course, very dangerous too. 

This is a shelf cloud. It extends across the horizon and as it approaches, you will usually get hit with very strong winds. Sometimes the winds can be 50 mph, while other shelf clouds may produce winds up to 90 or 100 mph. Picture courtesy of: Stephanie Page - Rice co.

I've highlighted the rotational features to this thunderstorm. It's not a wall cloud, just a rotating thunderstorm and because there is so much spin to it, the lower hanging clouds exhibit a circular pattern. The arrows are drawn clockwise, but the storm is spinning counterclockwise. This is the bottom of a supercell storm - ones that produce hail and sometimes tornadoes. Picture courtesy of: Walter Savage - Ellsworth

This storm would be moving to the right. The rain free area is what storm chasers and spotters zero in on to watch for tornado formation. That is underneath of the updraft part of the storm where tornadoes usually develop. Picture courtesy of: Lenora Henderson - Ellsworth co.

This picture from near Scott City. There are 3 different tornadoes occurring at one time. They appear to be more landspout type tornadoes (where they don't necessarily form from supercell storms) They can be dangerous and still tear things up, but normally they don't last very long. Picture courtesy of: Eric Hoeme 

Friday, April 24, 2015

Severe storms expected today

Just a quick update to our thinking for this afternoon.

- storms should fire up around 2 or 3 p.m. today in central and some of western Kansas.
- storms will move northeast at close to 40 mph.
- highest chance for seeing a few tornadoes will be in central and northern Kansas between 4-6 p.m.
- some hail and wind is possible with storms developing south into south central Kansas at around 5 or 6 p.m. this evening
- severe threat should trail off close to 11 p.m. or midnight as the storms move through KC and into Missouri and Iowa

Everything calms down for Saturday, and even Sunday looks relatively calm at this point. Have a safe weekend and stick with us throughout the afternoon to see how things change.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Coming soon - next round of severe storms

Our rounds of severe storms have been showing up about every 5 or 6 days and that's about to happen again with the next storm system coming in from the southwest. It's a complicated setup, as is the case with many severe weather events that we have to forecast. Let's look at what will likely happen for Thursday and Friday.

Thursday: Mainly cloudy or mostly cloudy. Some drizzle is possible for western Kansas at the beginning of the day. The lack of sunshine for most of the area will result in temperatures that struggle to warm into the lower 60s during the afternoon.

Thursday night: Some thunderstorms will develop or move into western Kansas. It's unlikely these storms will be severe because of the very cool temperatures we are forecasting. Any showers or storms will move east/northeast.

Friday: Cloudy in the morning with light rain or some drizzle, especially farther east. Main storm system and dry line (green dashed line) will be running into the some higher humidity. Severe storms may not develop until after 3 or 4 p.m. and once they do, they will have a tendency to move east/northeast.

Questions we have now:
1. Do the low clouds and early a.m. rain impact the severe potential late in the day
2. Will the sun poke through at all before noon
3. Where does the dry line setup heading into the afternoon/evening

Some of the details will get worked out in the computer models today, while others won't be known until Friday morning. This doesn't look like an outbreak of severe storms, but some rough weather is likely east of I-135 before we get to the weekend. Let's hope we get some more rain in places that still desperately need it.

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