Nine years ago today, I saw my first tornado in-person. I was born in Wichita and grew up in Haysville. I remember the ’90 Hesston, ’91 Haysville/South Wichita/Andover and the ’99 Haysville/South Wichita tornadoes quite well. However, I never saw one until April 14, 2012, near Moundridge. Later that night, Oaklawn, Spirit AeroSystems and the east side of town were hit by a separate tornado. It was a busy night with supercells tracking through the Sunflower State.
This year, we were on a warmer stretch with a few severe thunderstorms under our belt. We have had 3 tornadoes in Kansas so far this year. Now, our severe weather season is on pause. Our weather pattern has taken a more northerly direction this week, ushering in cooler temperatures and lower dew points. The atmosphere is far from being classified as unstable, or one of the ingredients you need for severe thunderstorms.
This was what we faced last year. This is why last year’s severe weather season was kept to a minimum. The constant flow of northerly winds effectively shut down any moisture return from the Gulf of Mexico. Wind shear, or the dangerous twisting of the winds, was also lacking.
Right now, our weather team is monitoring a strong and slow-moving system that is taking a more northerly jog. We already have cooler temperatures in place which will become even colder soon.
Overnight, a Frost Advisory is in effect for areas north and northeast of Wichita. This is not uncommon this far into April.
Snow this time of year is also not out of the norm as folks to the northwest are currently under a Winter Storm Watch. Forget about watching the sky for severe thunderstorms as this spot within our viewing area will be digging out their snow shovels which will be put to good use by Friday morning.
We do not have to worry about severe storms this week and for much of next week. There is a cold front coming this way early next week. Yes, temperatures will be able to warm up in advance of this boundary, but moisture will not be able to make a decent return. Plus, temperatures look like they will be cold enough to support more snow for our northwest communities! By the end of next week, now that is looking a little more favorable for stronger storms. A powerful cold front will work through the region and I do see the possibility of a storm or two reaching severe thresholds. We will end April on a quiet note regarding severe storms with below average temperatures over a good chunk of the country.
May is always a beast of a month when we typically peak with severe weather. Our wind flow and how much moisture can return will be key ingredients going forward.
–Chief Meteorologist Lisa Teachman