Sunday, June 12, 2022

Every Meteorologist's Nightmare!!

Saturday evening, in the Flint Hills of Kansas, was the stuff of every meteorologist's nightmares. 

Picture: Ten thousand people in open rangeland with a tornadic thunderstorm, that also contained golfball-sized hail, and no way to escape or shelter in time as a shelf cloud (the leading edge of wind, rain and hail) approached from the north. 
Photo by Paul Attwater
The event is the wonderful Symphony in the Flint Hills. One of its special charms is that it occurs in the middle of nowhere -- amongst nature and cattle drives. But, that is also its unique danger: how do you evacuate ten thousand people in a short period of time?

The tornado missed the site, but not by much. Below is a map showing the rotation track (pink arrow) with the blue color almost certainly indicating a tornado on the ground. The site is "S."
Friends described their cars rocking in 60+mph winds as the hail came down. Some said they were "terrified."

Clearly, event organizers waited too long yesterday evening. I was receiving calls from worried, or even  terrified people, as they heard about the tornado warning just to their east with nowhere to shelter or escape. There are no buildings on the site, just tents. 

I urge the Symphony in the Flint Hills to conduct a complete review of its location, procedures and points of egress before it selects a location for 2023. 

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