The Rare HIGH RISK Today

/The Rare HIGH RISK Today

The Rare HIGH RISK Today

Good morning bloggers,

A Severe Weather Outbreak Is Likely

From The Storm Prediction Center:  “An Outbreak Of Severe Thunderstorms with tornadoes, very large hail, and wind damage is expected to develop across parts of the southern and central plains from this afternoon into this evening and overnight. Strong long-track tornadoes will be likely from parts of central and southern Kansas southward into western Oklahoma. Large hail and wind damage will also be possible outside of these areas across parts of the southern and central plains.  A severe threat is also expected across parts of the lower Great Lakes region late this afternoon and early evening.”

Kansas City Weather Time-Line:

  • Now-8 PM:  Staying dry with light winds this morning increasing from the east and southeast this afternoon at 10-15 mph.  High: 78°
  • 8 PM – Midnight:  Thunderstorms begin forming near a warm front which will be near KC. Thunderstorms will be increasing overnight with severe weather possible. The main risk type is damaging winds and large hail, but we can’t rule out night time tornadoes at this time.
  • Midnight- 6 AM:  A round of strong to severe thunderstorms is likely.  Very heavy rain will fall from the thunderstorms that may produce damaging winds and hail.
  • Friday:  The rain may shut down for a little while in the morning. There is still a chance of more thunderstorms, however.  There is a better chance of strong to severe thunderstorms firing back up later in the day into Friday night.

This map above shows the surface map as of 7 AM this morning.  The storm is just beginning to organize and a lot has to happen before the severe thunderstorms erupt. There is still an old circulation around yesterdays storm. Moisture was pulled off to the east, but it is already beginning a surge back to the west this morning.

Tornado Climatology:

KS daily Tor freq

Today is May 18th and we are near the peak of tornado season. This shows the Daily Kansas tornado frequency 1950-2009.  As the graph indicates, mid to late April through mid June historically has the highest tornado frequency, with the peak occurring around May 22nd-23rd with over 160 tornadoes occurring over that two day period since 1950. Notice the sharp drop-off by mid to late June. This is due to the jet stream (storm track) and associated strong vertical wind shear shifting north, affecting mainly the northern tier of the country through the rest of the summer. This effectively shuts down the Kansas “tornado machine”, as the hot, “dog-days” of summer set in. Notice the secondary minor peak in tornado activity October-November, when the onset of winter battles with the relatively mild fall airmass still in place across the region.

KS hourly tor freq

This next graphic shows the most likely time of the day for tornadoes. It is rare, but not unheard of, to have night time and early morning tornadoes. The least likely time for a tornado in Kansas is around 8 AM.

Potential Flooding From This Storm:

The models are continuing to come in with high precipitation amounts that would lead to some flooding.  The latest NAM and GFS model runs have 2 to 5 inch amounts near Kansas City. Flooding will be one of the more serious risks. How will Friday set up? This is something we will look deeper into later. Right now, let’s see how today pans out.

How does this storm fit the LRC? Just look at cycles 2 and now. 118 days apart exactly, another incredible example of the cycling pattern:

Thank you for sharing in this Weather Experience and opening your weather minds to the cycling pattern. Have a great day. We will be monitoring closely. I will try to update the blog later this evening.


2017-05-18T19:27:12+00:00 May 18th, 2017|General|46 Comments


  1. stl78 May 18, 2017 at 7:24 am - Reply

    Things sure do look to b aligning up right for an outbreak. Keep your eyes to the sky and be careful. Gary, how does this line up with the lrc?

  2. Fred Nolan May 18, 2017 at 8:14 am - Reply

    Lots of early dark clouds here in Olathe. Hopefully no hail or tornadoes this way.

  3. Urbanity May 18, 2017 at 8:20 am - Reply

    It ALWAYS seems like these high emphasis forecasts fail (which is a good thing). Right now out here west of Salina it is cloudy, very cool – 54 degrees, and windy out of the north. Things will have to change in a hurry for severe development before dark.

  4. Jason May 18, 2017 at 8:27 am - Reply

    Hope you are at least partially right Urbanity. My folks live a little SW of Salina so I’ll be keeping an eye on things.

    • Urbanity May 18, 2017 at 10:09 am - Reply

      Hard to say what will happen the further south you go, but still right now the cold, clouds, and north wind are ruling the day 30 miles west of Salina.

  5. Snow Miser May 18, 2017 at 8:31 am - Reply

    I suppose I shouldn’t count on getting much sleep the next 2 nights.

  6. Craig May 18, 2017 at 8:33 am - Reply

    I thought this was interesting from the latest SPC update. Have never seen them use the word “giant” before…

    “Any discrete/sustained supercells in this environment will be
    capable of cyclic, significant-tornado production as well as giant,
    destructive hail.”

    • Urbanity May 18, 2017 at 10:06 am - Reply

      yes, that’s an interesting choice of words.

  7. Rod May 18, 2017 at 9:43 am - Reply

    Just curious when was the last time there was ever a high risk issued for parts of MO by the SPC. Thanks

    • Three7s May 18, 2017 at 10:24 am - Reply

      The last time a high risk was even issued for Oklahoma,/Kansas as in April of 2012. I don’t recall it ever being issued in Missouri.

  8. Anonymous May 18, 2017 at 10:20 am - Reply

    I enjoy streaming storm chasers on my computer and phone, so I would assume most will be flocking to the high risk area today. Does anyone on here know about what time initiation could get started in the high risk area? Also, Urbanity, I recall the May 2003 wedge tornado which hit KCK and Gladstone very well and that day started with a cool, cloudy day in the 50’s. A warm front moved through and then all hell broke loose. Very similar day back then.

    • Urbanity May 18, 2017 at 12:04 pm - Reply

      It does sound like that kind of set up, our winds were from the north but are out of the east now and picking up speed. I think we will have a significant outbreak, can only hope for the best to everyone impacted by this.

  9. Three7s May 18, 2017 at 10:25 am - Reply

    was* in April……

  10. Brandon May 18, 2017 at 11:42 am - Reply

    My house was one of the affected in Gladstone on that May 4th, 2003 tornado. If I’m not mistaken, there was a high risk for the area including, obviously, Missouri as well. I believe there were one or two more in the subsequent years also.

  11. Brandon May 18, 2017 at 12:14 pm - Reply

    Original post still in moderation, but here’s the link to the SPC archive for May 4th 2003.

  12. Kstater May 18, 2017 at 12:25 pm - Reply

    Today should be interesting. If it wasn’t for the warm front and low pressure we would probably have very small tornado risk locally. But since we have those in place it shouldn’t take much for torandos to form even in non supercell storms. Down near Wichita could be a mess later. Time will tell.

  13. Dan M. May 18, 2017 at 1:31 pm - Reply

    Storm already firing in Oklahoma. A PDS (Particular Dangerous Situation) Tornado Watch has been issue for Western Oklahoma. Everything looks like its setting up for some really bad storms in that area.

  14. Jack May 18, 2017 at 1:35 pm - Reply

    Latest HRRR model has storms firing on the warm front just south of I-70 with middle 60’s dew points and good EHI values.. if these get there act together we will need to have our guard up, then we will look for storm along the dry line to move in around 11-1 am.

    Gary, what are your thoughts on these storms on the warm front?


    • Kstater May 18, 2017 at 1:52 pm - Reply

      I have the same concern. I think we could see multiply tornados locally because of that warm front. Not to mention low pressure approaching. They should be able to rotate pretty easily.

  15. REAL HUMEDUDE May 18, 2017 at 1:51 pm - Reply

    Fl Flood watch out for entire Metro area. As dry as it is here and points north, they really mush think we are in line for some training thunderstorms. Get the sump pump checked and the drains cleared, might be some serious water coming

  16. Kstater May 18, 2017 at 2:00 pm - Reply

    Nws in topeka is saying storms may begin forming along the warm front very soon.

  17. Randy Keller May 18, 2017 at 2:00 pm - Reply

    Praying for everyone down there in your area guys! hang tight!

    1 more for the sweep…..LETS GO YANKEES!!

    • Snow Miser May 18, 2017 at 2:18 pm - Reply

      I have a feeling they won’t get the game in.

      Yankees are evil.

    • Joe May 18, 2017 at 2:48 pm - Reply

      Start spreading the news…

  18. Mr. Pete May 18, 2017 at 2:20 pm - Reply

    Mowing the grass now….

  19. Tim May 18, 2017 at 2:21 pm - Reply

    Already a pop up north of Ottawa!

  20. Craig May 18, 2017 at 2:21 pm - Reply

    Hot off the presses!
    Brand new MD from the SPC. Tornado Watch for KC area to be issued soon.

    • Craig May 18, 2017 at 2:22 pm - Reply

      Text of MD:

      DISCUSSION…Satellite trends show building cumulus along a warm
      front extending across KS into western MO as of 1915Z. The airmass
      along and south of the front is strongly unstable, with MLCAPE in
      the 2000-3500 J/kg range. As a 50+ kt southwesterly mid-level jet
      approaches this region, large-scale forcing for ascent will
      gradually increase. Low-level convergence along the front in tandem
      with the increasing large-scale ascent should be sufficient for
      convective initiation over the next several hours. Recent short-term
      model guidance is generally consistent in developing convection
      along the warm front by 21Z. Strengthening mid-level winds will
      support effective bulk shear values of 40-50 kt, and supercells
      structures appear likely.

      Although low-level flow is not forecast to be quite as strong as
      locations farther west (mainly western/central KS), backed
      easterly/northeasterly winds in the 0-1 km layer along the front
      will enhance effective SRH through the afternoon and early evening,
      and isolated tornadoes will be possible. Low-level winds are
      forecast to increase across this region by this evening as a
      low-level jet strengthens across the central/southern Plains. If
      initially discrete supercells remain the dominant storm mode into
      this evening, then the tornado threat would increase in the 00-03Z
      time frame. In addition to the isolated tornado threat, the very
      favorable thermodynamic environment and steep mid-level lapse rates
      present across this region will likely support large to very large
      hail with any supercell. Isolated damaging winds may also occur.

  21. REAL HUMEDUDE May 18, 2017 at 2:23 pm - Reply

    Prepare thy anus

  22. Craig May 18, 2017 at 2:24 pm - Reply

    And check the radar. The first storm is forming right now near Baldwin City.

  23. Jack May 18, 2017 at 2:28 pm - Reply

    The biggest thing I read from the MD is that if storms remain in a discrete, supercell mode, the low-level jet will be increasing as we go through the evening so the tornado risk will be increasing as we go through the evening. We definitely need to be on our guard. Will be interesting to see if the storms get their act together and if the 10% tornado risk gets shifted eastward.

  24. REAL HUMEDUDE May 18, 2017 at 3:04 pm - Reply

    Little discreet possible supercell developing near Baldwin City now. Already some very powerful Tornadoes on the ground in western OK
    Starting to pop off!

  25. Jack May 18, 2017 at 3:05 pm - Reply

    Tornado watch just issued for our area…
    Tornado Watch Number 238
    NWS Storm Prediction Center Norman OK
    300 PM CDT Thu May 18 2017

    The NWS Storm Prediction Center has issued a

    * Tornado Watch for portions of
    northeast Kansas
    parts of northwest Missouri

    * Effective this Thursday afternoon and evening from 300 PM until
    1000 PM CDT.

    * Primary threats include…
    A couple tornadoes possible
    Scattered large hail and isolated very large hail events to 3
    inches in diameter possible
    Scattered damaging wind gusts to 65 mph possible

    SUMMARY…Thunderstorms are forecast to increase in coverage mainly
    over the western half of the watch area in the next couple of hours,
    and then expand eastward with time. Along with risk for very large
    hail, a couple of tornadoes — including potentially a strong
    tornado — will be possible. Locally damaging winds may also occur
    with stronger storms — particularly into this evening when storms
    are likely to congeal into one or more organized bands capable of
    more widespread damaging winds.

    The tornado watch area is approximately along and 45 statute miles
    north and south of a line from 25 miles west southwest of Manhattan
    KS to 50 miles southeast of Chillicothe MO. For a complete depiction
    of the watch see the associated watch outline update (WOUS64 KWNS


    REMEMBER…A Tornado Watch means conditions are favorable for
    tornadoes and severe thunderstorms in and close to the watch
    area. Persons in these areas should be on the lookout for
    threatening weather conditions and listen for later statements
    and possible warnings.

    Notice they say even a possible strong tornado… very interesting.. now we just need these storms to form!

    • REAL HUMEDUDE May 18, 2017 at 3:16 pm - Reply

      Jack, getting the impression you WANT tornadoes to form………not cool

      • Alexander May 18, 2017 at 4:22 pm - Reply

        Real Humedude, we are on a weather blog – of course we want storms to form!

        We don’t want damage or people to be hurt, but we all are here because we find weather fascinating – and not the sunny cloudless sky kind.

        • Joe K May 18, 2017 at 4:54 pm - Reply


          That statement is like a 2 headed coin. Almost every time a tornado forms, it causes loss of property or life to some degree. While I agree, I love storms too, I definitely do not want destructive storms. I think that is the point Hume was making.

      • Heat MIser May 18, 2017 at 7:03 pm - Reply

        Sure, a lot of weather bloggers do. Sure, not where they can hurt people, but we are fascinated by them.

  26. Weatherby Tom May 18, 2017 at 3:22 pm - Reply

    Tornadoes are common given where we live. Cant deny it, or stop them. All we can do is hope they target low population areas, and not take lives. Having said that, they are the most fascinating thing weather gives us, and I am fascinated by them as are many who pay to read and enjoy this blog. Today is one of those rare days each year, that we watch from the safety of our homes and or cellars. Just hope that everyone in the target area understands the severity of the situation brewing.

  27. ginapuff May 18, 2017 at 4:32 pm - Reply

    Wow. They just updated the south central Kansas watch to a PDS tornado watch. I live in Gardner now but grew up in western KS. Hope everyone is hunkered down out there!

  28. REAL HUMEDUDE May 18, 2017 at 6:35 pm - Reply


  29. Tim May 18, 2017 at 6:45 pm - Reply

    Am i right to be concerned? I thought i had read if the first wave doesn’t materialize once the warm front passes, that we would have the most favorable conditions for tornadoes until midnight?

    • Dobber May 18, 2017 at 6:48 pm - Reply


  30. Kstater May 18, 2017 at 7:00 pm - Reply

    SPC said that best conditions for tornadoes wouldn’t come in until after 7 pm. Will be interesting to see what happens.

  31. Dave May 18, 2017 at 7:11 pm - Reply

    It sure looks like everything is forming to our west and moving north.

  32. Mr. Pete May 18, 2017 at 9:26 pm - Reply

    Looks like the rain won’t affect the Royals game tonight thankfully

  33. Auri May 18, 2017 at 10:27 pm - Reply

    sirens near liberty

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