A new month has started and with May now underway. Severe weather becomes item #1 around these parts, or at least it usually is.
The last few Mays though haven’t been that busy at all around these parts at least. That too can be said for many areas of the Plains, but this May things are different and we’re starting to see more and more activity crop up.
Things just “look” more typical this month, and so far these last couple of weeks are from a severe weather standpoint. The worst of severe weather in the SE part of the country appears mostly over (which is typical now) and the Plains seem to be getting more active (which is also typical).
Tornadoes popped in SW TX on Sunday, which too is normal for early May. We’re seeing more active dry line set-ups in the Plains and while today is a bit different from that standpoint there are some variables that need to be watched for severe weather in region.
Today: Cloudy with developing showers as the day goes along. It won’t rain all day and there will be noticeable breaks, but it will be a bit more iffy later this afternoon especially.
The risk of thunderstorms increases later today and this evening. Those storms need to be watched for hail and wind threats, and perhaps even a tornadic threat south of the area.
Temperatures may struggle after lunch, with readings only around 60°. Breezy as well with winds 15-25 MPH.
Tonight: Evening storms move away…some could be severe on the MO side especially and from US 50 southwards with winds and larger hail possible. Temperatures drop into the 40s by daybreak
Tomorrow: Clouds with some late clearing possible. Cool with highs only in the 50s
Wednesday: Initially dry but rain chances increase later in the day with highs in the 60-65° range. Breezy as well.
So May is here and with that brings the risks of severe storms. As mentioned at the top though we’ve been pretty lucky these last couple of years in May and early June… but that luck may not hold this year.
Climatologically we see the risks of severe weather shift northwards as temperatures down south get warmer and warmer, as Gulf moisture has an easier time flowing northwards and as the jet stream starts it’s season transition from south to eventually the northern US and Canada heading into the summer months. There’s about a 6 week window where this region is particularly vulnerable.
The animation shows the probabilities increase from early May to mid-June…
Already we’ve seen the Plains light up…Friday was a sort of more typical severe weather outbreak in the Plains with a strong dryline…a late day weakening of the preventative cap and a disturbance/upper wave helping to trigger things.
By the time the storms got to us, they were wind makers mainly. Mostly in the 40-60 MPH range as they barreled through the metro. There was a brief tornado near Mayetta, Kansas. Some non-severe hail, too, but basically it was a weakening line of storms compared to the storms that had developed earlier in central Kansas, including the EF3(+?) tornado that struck Andover, Kansas, on Friday night, some 31 years after the F5 tornado devastated that community.
This information above is preliminary.
There was also some tornadic activity closer to Topeka’s region including an EF-1 tornado.
Thankfully there were just too many storms fighting for the weakening instability that was over the KC area as the line moved our way, so we just had the wind aspect from the storms.
Today’s threat is complicated for us because of the likelihood of preliminary showers and storms that may contaminate the atmosphere on top of the KC area. This effectively may cool our lower part of the atmosphere enough to keep the threat of higher end storms several counties south of the KC Metro.
With that said, as conditions become more favorable for stronger storms later today…and as they travel NEwards…I am noticing the the air above us, despite the probability of cooler air at the surface (maybe only around 60° later today) will be decently unstable and the atmosphere above will actually be conducive for rotating storms.
What can happen in those situations, assuming we DO HAVE the cooler surface air…is that the storms can produce hook type returns on radar BUT because the the surface air is rain-cooled a tornado won’t form BUT the storms are rotating and allowing for larger hail to develop and that is a possibility with this set-up.
Some stronger surface winds are also possible.
The SPC has a slight risk (level 2/5) of severe weather nearby but still several counties south of the Metro and an enhanced risk (level 3/5) of severe weather well south of the region with a moderate risk into NE OK. Adjustments to this forecast map are possible today as we get a better beat of the rain that will be the set-up to hopefully keep the worst of the weather well south of here
A concern that I do have though is IF we manage to see fewer preliminary showers/storms during the day…that could allow the surface area of low pressure to migrate farther northwards towards the I-70 corridor region early this evening.
IF that happens then the storms have a greater chance of producing more significant severe weather…and yes even a chance of a tornado or two nearby again. The playout though so far this morning shows this less likely to occur as the surface storm is forecast south of the KC area.
IF the surface low is down towards Butler and then Sedalia…this risk will be well south of KC…but it bears watching.
My inclination is that the tornadic threat is south of the region towards the I-44 corridor area northwards towards Highway 54 near the Lakes region of central MO.
The only other issue is whether or not any decent storms will fire on the KS side this evening an come this way later this evening…it’s possible. Some hail and wind is possible with that but based on the way things are unfolding so far this morning…odds favor the bigger severe weather threats to be well south of the KC Metro area later today and tonight.
This system will likely leave a trail of clouds in it’s wake into tomorrow with perhaps some later PM or evening clearing (maybe). As a result we may struggle tomorrow to get out of the 50s
The feature photo comes from Danny McNair who was chasing storms on Friday.
I might try and get a late morning update out.