Friday, April 29, 2022

This Afternoon and Tonight's Tornado and Damaging Wind Risk

After 2 hours of analysis, here is my forecast on the tornado and severe thunderstorm risk starting at 3pm today and continuing until 3am Saturday morning. Giant hail (> 2") is likely with any thunderstorm in the extreme or high risk areas. Let's break it down:
  • Extreme Risk Area: Keeping in mind that this a relative risk scale of tornado damage or injury, I have used the rare extreme category because of the risk of strong tornadoes and the risk any thunderstorm in this area could be accompanied by 90mph straight-line winds. Power failures and tree damage are likely.
  • High Risk Area: Any supercell thunderstorm in this area is a candidate to produce a tornado, perhaps a strong tornado. The thunderstorms could also produce 70 mph winds. 
  • Enhanced Risk Area: If strong thunderstorms develop south of I-40, they are candidates to produce a tornado or two. In northern Kansas to the west of U.S. 81, an isolated tornado or two is possible. 
Noon Addition

While my forecasts are independent of theirs (but we both use the same data), the NWS's Storm Prediction Center has come to almost the same conclusions as I in their 11:30am forecast.
This situation is potentially similar to that of May 8, 2003. It is potentially the worst tornado threat in the eastern half of Kansas since 2012. 

Critical Safety Information:

Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA)
These are available from your smartphone. While they sometimes suffer from reliability issues (thus the reason for use of multiple sources), they have the advantage of being able to awaken you during the night if you place your smartphone next to your bed. 

If you haven't already activated WEA, here's how to do it for an iPhone. 

1. Go to "Settings" and Scroll Down to Notifications.

2. After tapping "Notifications" scroll all the way down to "Emergency Alerts." Turn them On. 
Other Warning Sources Beyond WEA
  • Weather apps. Make sure you have "location" turned on. The AccuWeather app (scroll down to bottom of page) is a good one. 
  • Weather radios, sample here
  • Television, when on a channel with a professional meteorologist, provides excellent extended coverage. 
  • While sirens are not designed to provide indoor warnings, there's nothing wrong with cracking your window so you can listen for them. 

When You Under a Tornado Watch
  • Make sure friends or relatives who are infirm or handicapped know there is a risk of tornadoes. 
  • If they would have difficulty getting to shelter during a tornado warning, go pick them up and bring them to your home. 
  • Remember: Your basement under heavy furniture (pool table, if you have one) or the lowest floor of your home in a closet or bathroom in the middle part of your home. Put on a helmet if you have one. 
  • Make sure your shelter has footwear (or plan to wear footwear), a couple of bottles of water, diapers (if needed), flashlight and a radio/television/smartphone = a way to obtain weather info while you are sheltering. Clear out cobwebs, etc., before storms arrive.
  • Charge your smartphone and laptop when the watch is issued but take out the charger cord when thunderstorms approach (a power surge may damage your equipment). 
  • If you go to bed during a tornado watch, take your smartphone (with WEA turned on) and put it on your nightstand. 
Tornado Warning
  • Shelter when a tornado warning is issued. Do not go outdoors to try to see the tornado, especially since some tornadoes are invisible. 
  • If you feel uncomfortable during a thunderstorm, shelter whether there is an official tornado warning or not. 
  • Bring your smartphone with you. 
  • Wear shoes into shelter. 
I will have much more on Twitter this afternoon and evening @usweatherexpert. Please follow me.

Please also make sure friends and family, especially the infirm, are aware of this situation. 

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