Sunday, April 27, 2008

April 26, 1991 revisited



We're a week away from the one year anniversary of the Greensburg tornado and a lot of attention will be placed on the rebuilding city in this next week. Did you know another anniversary passed by yesterday? On April 26, 1991 a devastating tornado touched down by Clearwater, roared through Haysville and south Wichita then devastated Andover. 17 people died from this tornado, 13 in Andover.

In the days leading up to the event, computer models pointed toward an active weather day on April 26th. I was up until after 2 o'clock that Friday morning in our weather office at KU. I was awaiting the convective outlook from the National Severe Storms Forecast Center in Kansas City, MO (which is now the Storm Prediction Center in Norman, OK). With their outlook early that morning, the NSSFC placed much of Kansas, Oklahoma and Nebraska in a "High risk", saying an outbreak of tornadoes and severe weather was likely.

I skipped a test that day to go out and chase the storms. I teamed up with my good friend Matt Foster, another meteorology student at KU. We traveled west of Topeka, then south down to Council Grove, where we caught up with a storm that produced a tornado through Flint Hills of Wabaunsee county. The above picture was taken by Matt on I-70 as the tornado passed west of Rossville. We chased more storms that day but didn't see another tornado.

I can't remember when we heard about Wichita and Andover being hit. It was either on the turnpike going back to Lawrence or when we got back to the weather office on campus. I remember being excited about seeing my first tornado but also reminded that people died from the storms that day.

Roger Cornish mentioned the other day that when he and his wife are riding horses over in the Andover area, they can still see scraps of metal in the trees from that tornado. That simply amazes me.

If you are interested, here's a more in-depth look at that day from the Topeka Capital-Journal.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Storms continue to rumble...north

Storms continue to rumble through northwest Kansas tonight. Our storm chaser Tony Laubach is in Hill City as a tornado-warned storm moves toward him. This storm has produced golfball, tennis ball, baseball and softball-sized hail this evening. I'm growing increasingly worried about folks in Hill City and to the north of there.

EDIT: 9:35pm...I just talked to Tony, who is hunkered down in a car wash in town. He just said that some stuff is starting to fly around as the winds are picking up quickly. Needless to say, I'm a bit worried.

10:09pm: crazy last 30 minutes. Tony got east of HLC and got pelted with golfball sized hail. (I was talking to him as it was hitting...VERY LOUD!!) Tony estimated 80 mph winds at 10:05pm on US-24 about 1.5 mile west of Nicodemus. He had too much hail and had to get out of there. He's safe now and will stay overnight in Hays.

Round 2 later today

The sky continues overcast here in Wichita late this morning as yet another day of severe weather is anticipated across Kansas. Yesterday we had widespread activity pretty much all day. Today it's a different story. There are a few storms east of Wichita right now but the main episode is expected to unfold in the late afternoon and evening west of us. If you're reading this from Hays and Russell, you should expect watches and warnings this afternoon. If you are farther south, say Dodge City and Pratt, the activity may be a bit more isolated late today and this evening.

Storm Team 12 Chasers are on alert!! While this is supposed to be one of my days off (I'm actually writing this from home!) you can expect me in the office later this afternoon as the chasers head out!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Update this evening

In my last post, I talked about how we relay the storm reports from our chasers to the National Weather Service. Tonight, our storm chaser Tony Laubach reported quarter sized hail with a storm in Yuma County, CO. I relayed that report to the Goodland NWS who was VERY appreciative.

That storm has now moved toward the northeast into Cheyenne County, KS near St. Francis. It's quite a bit weaker now but Tony is still on it and will report back if he sees anything else.

Busy day for the area

If you haven't been reading my blog for long, or if you haven't read my old posts, it's time to play catch up! I've mentioned in the past that in addition to my on-air duties here at the station, I'm also the Storm Coordinator too. Basically, I'm in charge of coordinating our storm chasers around the viewing area in hopes of getting eyewitness reports and video/pictures of severe weather. These reports help us keep you ahead of the storm and of course we relay them to the National Weather Service.

It's been a busy one today with high wind, hail and heavy rain reports. We have a couple of our storm chasers in western Kansas and eastern Colorado where a tornado watch in currently in effect. Keep it to KWCH for the latest watches and warnings.

While I'm thinking about it: heads up for tomorrow. The Storm Prediction Center has Wichita, along with much of central and eastern Kansas in a Moderate risk of severe weather. The season is here!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

A little more active this week

As expected, thunderstorms were very isolated in nature yesterday evening in the far southeast part of the viewing area. A storm developed just northeast of Ponca City and then split into two separate storms. The northern storm moved into Cowley and Elk County while the southern storm moved along the Kansas-Oklahoma border. The good news is that neither one got too feisty. One of our storm chasers reported some pea-sized hail in Cowley County around 10pm but that was it.

We have another chance of severe weather tomorrow, with wind and hail the main concerns at this point. These storms will possibly linger into Thursday. We also have storms in the forecast for next Monday. The calendar is creeping closer to May, which is typically our most active month of the year. Stay tuned!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Whole lotta shakin' goin' on!

When I woke up today, I checked my pager as I do every morning. It's a necessity, especially now that we're in severe weather season. In addition to TextMe 12 bulletins, I also get earthquake notifications on my pager from the U.S. Geological Survey. It wasn't a surprise that I saw a notice on the pager but the location caught me a little off guard. The moderate earthquake, 5.2 in magnitude, struck near Bellmont, Illinois. The U.S.G.S reported that it was felt in Nashville, St. Louis and even as far west as Kansas City and Lawrence (that's a whole new meaning to "ROCK Chalk Jayhawk").

An aftershock of 4.6 struck later in the morning around 10:15 CDT. I've never experienced an earthquake before so I'm not sure how I'd handle it.

Here's a link to a story the U.S.G.S put together about this event.

A fellow meteorologist was on the air as the event unfolded.

Here's hoping your weekend is much quieter! The weather will be great so enjoy it!

Friday, April 11, 2008

Rock Chalk Champs!!

If you're a KU fan and/or grad like me, you know it doesn't get much better than this! I've been in a celebratory mood all week long after KU won the national championship Monday night. After the win, I talked to my brother and a couple of college friends who were on Cloud 9 like me. Normally, I'd never call anyone that late at night but I knew all of them were still up! I finally fell asleep around 12:30am and then got up at 5am for work!

Have you got your KU champs gear yet? I have one t-shirt so far...it's the one the Wichita Eagle was selling of the Sports page from Tuesday morning. I'll probably pick up another championship shirt in the next few days, time willing.

I have a confession to make which I announced on the Kansas CW Tuesday morning. You'll remember a past post of mine talking about seeing KU's opening round game in Omaha against Portland State. At the game, I wore my best KU sweatshirt and my KU 2008 Orange Bowl Champions hat. I wore those 2 things for the rest of KU's games during the tournament. OK, I hear you saying "what's the big deal about that?" Well, I never washed the KU sweatshirt until Tuesday, after the championship game. Yeah, you could say I'm superstitious! I sat in the same chair in the family room, watching the same TV (but listening to Bob Davis and Chris Piper on the radio) and drinking ice water out of my KU cup.

Rock Chalk Jayhawk!

Monday, April 7, 2008

A few hours until gametime!

My stomach is starting to turn. Maybe it's because I haven't had lunch yet. A better explanation is that we're just hours away from the big game: KU vs. Memphis. KU's ride has been tremendous the last few weeks! I was very fortunate enough to see the opening round game in person in Omaha but how cool would it be to have tickets for tonight's matchup? It should be an exciting one and in the end, as long as KU has one more point than Memphis, I will be one happy camper!

I'm sure our dog Daisy will be happy to see the end of the basketball season. I get a little worked up during KU games. Always have...always will. Heck, last month I was watching ESPN Classic and they had the 1988 KU vs. OU National championship game. Immediately upon hearing the TV, Daisy sat down beside my chair, ears glued to her head and just starred into the other room. I told her "Daisy, it's OK...I know how this one turns out!!" It didn't help.

My wife doesn't understand how a grown man can get so loud and overworked during a basketball game. No apologies...I bleed Crimson and Blue and tonight Daisy will be my wife's best friend for 2 hours. GO HAWKS!!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

April is here

March is over but the Madness goes on! First of course, I have to give my props to my Hawks! It was a hard-fought win Sunday afternoon and glad we came away with the "W." I wish I could say I'm packing my bags for San Antonio but I'm not. Note to Bruce: do you need a weather guy down there? I know it's inside the 'Dome...that's OK!)

The forecast here looks a little wet late tonight and tomorrow as the next storm system approaches. Don't be surprised if you get an early wake up call with the thunder. Hail and heavy rain will be the main concerns here. Oklahoma will be under the gun tomorrow afternoon, especially from Oklahoma City to Wichita Falls, TX. If you have travel plans down that way tomorrow going to the Final Four, please keep that in mind.

Go Hawks!!