Joe’s Weather Blog: The severe weather season that wasn’t (WED-6/9)


KANSAS CITY, Mo. — I’m back from vacation today at work at least. Spent some time out in Arizona visiting and checking in with my mom and playing a lot of golf. Took a few days to go up to Sedona, which is an area that I love to play some golf and hike some of the trails. It’s dry out out there… and it’s very dry overall. A pretty nasty drought in the desert and an early fire season start has folks big time concerned about what’s to come for the fire season in the southwest U.S.

Got home and noticed the switch to summer that as apparently been flipped and it appears we’re going to be into a rather warm and dry stretch for quite some time. There is a good chance of moisture though on Friday and we’ll need it. Yesterday there were some nice downpours around. KCI had almost 3/4″ of rain too! Very localized. Hopefully Friday will be a bit more widespread.



Today: Mostly sunny with less than a 20% chance of a storm after 3 p.m. Highs near 90°.

Tonight: Fair and warm with lows in the lower 70s.

Tomorrow: Sunny and very humid with highs in the lower 90s and heat indices near 100°.

Friday: Storms/rain increasingly likely after lunch. Highs 85-90°.



So yeah, about the severe weather… or lack thereof. It really is remarkable that we’ve seen so little severe weather around these parts for now two straight “seasons.” I shared this from the National Weather Service in Pleasant Hill the other day on Facebook, and I don’t think much changed since this was put together:

The red boxes are the tornado warnings. In 2021, this goes back to that mid-March event with the tornado touchdown in southern Johnson County, Kansas and perhaps a touchdown near Peculiar (brief). Aside from that… nothing.

Even last year, even though there were fewer tornado warnings through the end of May, all had been covered by severe thunderstorm warnings by now.

Strictly from a tornado warning process (and remember, not all warnings verify), this is what has happened so far in 2021:

In Kansas, there has been 34 reports of tornados and on the Missouri side only 11. Those are reports through May 31. Some of those will be filtered out as duplicate reports are weeded out over the coming months.

Overall, Kansas averages 93 tornadoes and Missouri 47 in the period from 1991-2015.

And from a severe thunderstorm warning standpoint, you can see a clustering of warnings in central and northwest Kansas and south of Interstate 44 on the Missouri side.

There have been 275 reports of wind/hail on the Kansas side and only about 130 or so in Missouri. I think the Missouri number is pretty striking.

In May, there were no tornado-related deaths nationwide despite a soon to be filtered 288 reports of tornadoes, which was more than double last May.

Again though, the dearth of activity for tornadoes in the Plains, especially east of the Kansas turnpike, is very noteworthy.

Also note Oklahoma: That is crazy… so few tornadoes.

Some years there are favorable setups. Some years there aren’t. This season, that cool weather pattern that we had in May definitely didn’t help the setups at all in the Plains, and now that we’ve flipped the month to June the flow aloft has weakened considerably.

Not to say there won’t be the rogue events this summer. That happened several times last summer, but typically those are more fast hitters and weaker events compared to the potential in the spring months.

For Friday, the setup is more favorable depending on the instability and timing of the storms incoming from the northwest for heavier rains and maybe gusty winds. There will be a lot of low-level moisture. Dew points will be in the 70s, so heavy rains are also possible. There is a risk of severe weather but we’ll need to see how the cap plays into things as well, especially south of the metro.

Right now, the weekend overall looks OK, although there may be some scattered storms around on Saturday depending on what happens on Friday afternoon/evening.

Beyond Friday, it looks pretty dry. There will be opportunities for early morning thunderstorm complexes to move into the area every so often as the heat dome centers itself out towards the Rockies.

You can see that evolve when looking at the five-day averages from Sunday to next Wednesday.

That thing being anchored in the northeast part of Arizona and popping northwards into Montana may allow some disturbances to ride into the western Plains and then come south-southeast into the Plains. How we dabble in those remains to be seen.

The GFS isn’t so optimistic in one of the wetter times of the year locally. This next map shows the seven-day anomalies from this Saturday night to next Saturday night. We typically get about 1.5″ of rain per week on average.

OK that’s enough for today.

The feature photo is from Dee Crow up in Lawson, Missouri yesterday.


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