Severe thunderstorms can happen anywhere and anytime if the right ingredients come together. Here in Kansas, we have two peak times where severe weather is more prevalent than other times of the year. This includes March 15 through June 15 and for a couple of other weeks in late September and early October.
Right now if you look at the entire country, you will see a heavy concentration of hail, wind and tornado reports from the Central High Plains (including Kansas) through the Ohio and Tennessee Valleys over to the East Coast dipping to the Deep South.
We have had a major increase in the number of severe storm reports over the last month.
The majority of the active days across the nation have happened in March.
We have seen an uptick in the number of tornado reports in March as well. Many of these happening in the Deep South, including Mississippi and Alabama.
Here in Kansas, the Storm Prediction Center reports two tornadoes. One that happened on March 14 in Cheyenne County. The Cheyenne County emergency manager reports a grain bin was damaged along County Road 16. This was a landspout that was weak. A landspout is a breed of tornado that often does not stay on the ground long nor do much damage.
Then on March 15, we had another tornado in southern Johnson County. This was rated an EF-0 with 85 MPH winds. The width of this tornado was 100 yards. Twenty homes were damaged in this tornado.
But, there is actually another tornado that made headlines, especially on social media, Twitter in particular. Our team was watching the radar closely on March 13. After 9 p.m., an x-ray of the storm in Gray County picked up on an anomaly southwest of Ensign.
Rotation was clearly evident on velocity among other forecasting products. Notice the large blue dot below. This is a mode we use behind the scenes called correlation coefficient. Blue tells us that it is picking up foreign material not associated with the parent storm. This is debris. No warning was ever issued for this storm.
Days later, our team investigated and found a damage survey that was conducted in Gray County by the National Weather Service. The tornado tracked from the south to the north. The first location of damage was an overturned pivot irrigation sprinkler. An EF-0 rating was given for this with winds at 80 mph. Follow the damage path to the north, and the tornado peaked with 125 mph winds where 8 wood poles were snapped off. This earned the EF-2 classification on the Enhanced Fujita Scale. The damage continued to the north, where a small barn/outbuilding was destroyed. The tornado finally lifted before 9:40 p.m.
Temperatures next week look to drop. Dew points will be lower, and the atmosphere does not look that unstable. Our chances for severe weather look to take a brief break before returning later this month.
–Chief Meteorologist Lisa Teachman