Sunday, May 31, 2009

Wrappin' up May

You've heard us talk about it before on the air, at school talks or at other events: May is usually our busiest month of the year for tornadoes here in Kansas. After chaotic months in May 2007 and 2008, we've managed only 9 tornadoes this month. That's not a typo: only 9!! For comparison's sake, the Greensburg storm in May 2007 produced 22 tornadoes in just 8 hours.

The graphic below shows all of the severe weather reports here in Kansas this month, with red dots representing tornado reports, blue dots for hail reports and green dots for high wind reports. (All graphics courtesy: Storm Prediction Center)

This got me thinking: what other months of May have been relatively quiet here in Kansas? I dove back into SPC's database to look. I discovered that while it is unusual, the low number of tornadoes is not without precedent. The following maps below show tornado touchdowns/paths each May from 1990 until 2008 (click on the map to enlarge):

What stands out to me are the months of May in 1992, 1994, 2000, 2005 and 2006. Each month had a low tornado count, especially 1994 and 1992 (only 2 and 4 tornadoes respectively!). What's interesting is that in each of these cases, the following month had a higher number of tornadoes reported. (Granted, it's not terribly difficult to surpass 2 tornadoes.)
Given the small data set (only 20 years), I can't make any strong conclusions on what June 2009 will be like tornado-wise. However, we know all too well that it's not the time to let your guard down.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Pacifier-sized hail hits near Hutch!

In all of my years of TV weather, I have never personally heard of or have described hail as "pacifier size." But yesterday afternoon, Lisa Pitts sent us this picture and history was made. Lisa, thanks...and I hope you washed it after the photo shoot!

All kidding aside, the KWCH Storm Chasers were hard at work again yesterday afternoon and evening. Scott Roberts and Mikey Gribble streamed live video and provided live accounts of the storm west of Wichita that produced occasional funnel clouds. At the same time, Lance Ferguson intercepted the other tornado-warned storm near Conway Springs, providing additional live video and accounts. Meanwhile up in eastern Kansas, Brandon Ivey chased with the Discovery Channel crew and the TIV. Thanks to all of the hard work by our dedicated team!

Enjoy the quiet weekend!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Severe Weather Looms

The Storm Prediction Center has upgraded most of southcentral Kansas to a Moderate risk of severe weather for this afternoon and evening. Our main concerns are large hail, high winds and heavy rainfall. Isolated tornadoes are possible too, early on in the development stage and especially with any discrete storms that get going ahead of the main line.

As always, the KWCH Storm Chasers are heading out. You can track their progress and be sure to check back for our Live Interactive Blog that I'll start up later this afternoon too. You'll find updates on my Twitter account too.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Severe Weather across Kansas

We knew today that tornado prospects would be isolated this evening across Kansas. If you look at my Twitter blog, you'll recall that I mentioned hail, wind and heavy rain were the main concerns. The key was to get on the storms early. Storm Chaser Lance Ferguson did just that and caught this funnel near Cambridge in Cowley County around 6:40pm this evening.


The funnel is to the left of the heavy rain (in the left part of the screen).

Chaser Mikey Gribble ventured into Kay County, OK tonight. Brandon Ivey was also out there with the TIV and the Discovery Channel crew in northern Oklahoma.

A preliminary total of 6 tornadoes were reported in Kansas today. More tornadoes were reported in Oklahoma and Missouri. Unfortunately, one death is reported near Kirksville, MO tonight.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

May 3, 1999

It's hard to believe that ten years have passed since the devastating tornado outbreak of Monday, May 3, 1999. Leading up to the event, it was a pleasant day outside: warm and windy...typical of May in Kansas. Wichita started the morning under a Slight risk of severe storms. As the day unfolded, more ominous signs appeared in the weather information, suggesting a more violent outcome in the weather by evening. My pager went off in the late morning as the Storm Prediction Center upgraded southcentral Kansas to a Moderate risk. It went off yet again that afternoon as the seldom-used "High risk" designation was put in place.

I was called into work as the big drops of rain started to fall. As I drove in, I worried about hail damage to my truck. Before the night was through I was worried about being in the path of the tornado that sliced through Haysville and south Wichita, changing so many lives in the process.

If you have any stories to share about that night please feel free to post them here.