Today is day five of Severe Weather Awareness Week and the last day. With that said and as we head towards the middle of March, it’s time to pay more attention to the forecast of thunderstorms in the region when those forecasts start mentioning the potential of strong or severe storms especially.
A lot of what has been reviewed may be common knowledge but there are new residents in the area or perhaps you’ve forgotten some of these things. Many are most concerned about tornadoes locally, but the reality is that strong winds, hail, and flooding are the biggest issues when it comes to severe storms and thunderstorms in general. Tornadoes need to be respected, but the other aspects are perhaps more common.
Today: Variable clouds with more sunshine this afternoon breezy and not as warm with highs in the mid 50s.
Tonight: Cool with mostly clear skies and lows down to near 32°.
Saturday: Mostly sunny and mild with highs well into the 60s.
Sunday: Turning windy and mild with highs well into the 60s.
Tornados, hail, stronger winds, lightning, and today… flooding. These are the big effects from thunderstorms. Tornadoes are the rarest of the above. I’d say localized flooding is the most common. Wind and hail are in there as well.
Remember to get a severe storm you need to have at least 58 mph winds and/or 1″ sized hail. If the storm is creating a tornado… it is severe!
Back in 2020, there were close to 16,000 different strong wind reports in the Storm Predication Center database in the US. More than 4,000 reports of at least 1″ hail. There were close to 1,250 tornadoes as well. So the wind aspect is certainly the most common severe weather event with these storms. In Missouri, there were 400 reports of stronger winds and 200 reports of larger hail. On the Kansas side, there were 425 reports of wind and 340 or so reports of hail.
Locally, we sort of had it pretty easy. There were only a handful of tornado warnings, with a few tornadoes, mostly weak. Both the states of Kansas and Missouri reported 27 tornadoes. Below average and no complaints there except perhaps from some tornado chasers!
Do you realize that the last time the whole of the Metro was even under a tornado watch was two Mays ago?
This year will likely be different.
So remember the difference between a WATCH and a WARNING!
and remember some safety thoughts as well.
Ahead of time, and ahead of the storms, sometimes by several days, we’ll tell you we’re watching a set up. For today, the day we’re watching is later next Wednesday or Thursday for perhaps some stronger storms.
As we get a bit closer, we start using terms on TV to describe the risk. I rarely will use the marginal term below… but the words SLIGHT and upwards from there are the words to pay attention to for the potential of stronger storms in certain scenarios.
We are considering altering our verbiage to talk about levels from 1-5 as a team and combining the two green shades above into one level.
What I want you to remember though is that the winds and the hail are the two main things that you will get. The tornado risk, while never 0, is almost always the lowest of the events for any one spot. Think about tornadoes… they’re typically small and they don’t last for too long. The problem though is that IF they are bigger and stronger, they do so much damage. Then again, as we saw from the derecho up in Iowa last year that crossed over the border into Illinois… widespread winds of 60-110 mph can do more damage than any tornado whether that be to property or agriculture.
As I mentioned at the top of the blog, tornadoes certainly get a lot of attention and deservedly so.
Remember these safety ideas…
When it comes to home shelter, depending on what type of home you live in and how well (or not) it’s constructed goes a long way in increasing your chances of surviving a tornado. What we do know is that mobile homes are NOT safe structures when it comes to very strong straight-line winds from a thunderstorm, or tornadic winds. Winds are winds and if they’re strong enough, they’ll do damage.
Regardless of where you go, remember that you always want to be downstairs and NOT upstairs. Whether that be in an apartment or a house. If it’s an apartment setting, if you know the neighbor downstairs, that would be a better place to be.
Hail is also a driver when it comes to severe weather safety. To be safe from hail though, as long as you’re inside and away from windows (also watch out for skylights), you should be in pretty good shape.
Remember hailstones can fall at over 100 mph!
Again, once the hail is quarter sized or bigger, it’s considered a severe thunderstorm as well.
Today the effort concerns flooding…
Flooding is a big issue around these parts, especially in the rural areas, but because of infrastructure in the urban core, flooding damage is especially a concern in certain situations. When bad flooding is expected or happening, you’ll hear a couple of terms:
To stay safe from flooding…
Always remember: “Turn around, don’t drown.”
So that is severe weather week.
The feature photo comes from Austin Hamilton up in Iowa.