April 17, 2014

Weather Service warns of possible life-threatening storms today

Most of Missouri will have one round of severe weather to contend with today, that could include tornadoes, damaging winds, hail and flooding. Some of Missouri will have two.  

This graphic from the National Weather Service Office in St. Louis shows where the Storm Prediction Center in Oklahoma says there is a risk for severe weather today.

This graphic from the National Weather Service Office in St. Louis shows where the Storm Prediction Center in Oklahoma says there is a risk for severe weather today.

National Weather Service Meteorologists say storms today will be life-threatening and are urging Missourians to prepare now for severe weather. Governor Jay Nixon (D) has declared a state of emergency in response to the storms already happening and those to come.

A tornado watch has been issued for 21 counties in southeast and south-central Missouri, for storms that have already prompted a tornado warning in Arkansas this morning. Those storms are anticipated to sweep northeast from southwestern Missouri through the St. Louis area.

These storms could produce large hail, damaging winds and tornadoes. Flooding is a possibility locally in southern Missouri, and more so in central and east-central Missouri where heavy rain has already fallen overnight.

Then for this afternoon will come storms that have caused the Storm Prediction Center in Oklahoma to say much of central and southern Missouri has a “moderate” risk for severe weather.

This graphic from the National Weather Service in Pleasant Hill illustrates the threats of severe weather today.

This graphic from the National Weather Service in Pleasant Hill illustrates the threats of severe weather today.

Today’s threat of tornadoes is the highest the state has been under so far this year, according to Meteorologist Jayson Gosselin with the National Weather Service in St. Louis.

“Unfortunately there will probably be at least one tornado in the state and there could be quite a few,” says Gosselin.

“It looks like it should warm up by this afternoon and get very unstable and a cold front will head from west to east across the state. Out ahead of that and along it we’re expecting thunderstorms that are going to be capable of very large hail, very strong winds as well as tornadoes possible.”

Storms are expected to form in Kansas and Oklahoma before sweeping through the state, first as discrete supercell thunderstorms, which Meteorologist Ryan Cardell with the Weather Service Office in Springfield says are generally the most dangerous.

“They can produce large hail, damaging winds and possibly stronger tornadoes,” says Cardell.

Farther east, storms are expected to gather into a line.

“At that point the threat will switch over to being more of a straight-line wind threat with isolated tornadoes. That will happen early in the evening sometime.”

Flash flood warnings have already been issued in a swath of central and eastern Missouri where rainfall totals have ranged from between 2.5 to more than 3 inches from storms overnight. Gosselin says if more heavy rain does move through, more flash flooding issues are likely.

“Everything is very saturated now,” says Gosselin.

“This is a good time … before the storms have formed … to dust off your emergency plans,” says Cardell. “Make sure that’s all ready so that when the watches do come out you can kind of start heightening your situational awareness to where the storms currently are, if they’ve formed, things like that, so that way you’re kind of ready. When the tornado warning happens you’ve got one foot in place heading into your disaster plan.”

For information for your area, tune in to your Missourinet affiliate station and visit these Weather Service office websites.

In northwest and western Missouri:  Kansas City (Pleasant Hill) and on Twitter @NWSKansasCity

In northeast and eastern Missouri:  St. Louis and on Twitter @NWSStLouis

In southwest Missouri:  Springfield and on Twitter @NWSSpringfield

In southeast Missouri:  Paducah, KY and on Twitter @NWSPaducah

Scotland and Clark counties:  Davenport, IA and on Twitter @NWSQuadCities

Several rounds of severe storms possible Tuesday through Thursday

Missouri could experience severe weather several times in the next couple of days.

This graphic shows the chances for general or organized thunderstorms for Tuesday (left image), Wednesday (center image) and Thursday (right image) according to the Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma.

This graphic shows the chances for general or organized thunderstorms for Tuesday (left image), Wednesday (center image) and Thursday (right image) according to the Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma.

The National Weather Service says storms today are expected to develop in southwest Missouri before pushing into central and northern Missouri in the afternoon and evening.

“We’re not expecting that to be severe,” says meteorologist Jenny Laflin at the Service’s Pleasant Hill office, “but as we go into the overnight hours we could see some additional development and some strengthening … and that’s where we’d look for severe potential, mainly between midnight and 8 a.m.”

Laflin says storms overnight should be widespread but only a few are likely to become severe, producing large hail. There is a lesser chance of damaging winds.

The greater chance of severe weather begins Wednesday.

“We have a warm front that’s lifting into the area and it’s just going to kind of park over central Missouri,” says Laflin. “We could see strong development across that boundary during the afternoon but our main window for severe weather is during the evening and early overnight hours, expecting large hail, damaging winds and potentially an isolated tornado or two.”

Laflin says the atmosphere Wednesday is predicted to be much like it was Thursday, when one thunderstorm in northwest Missouri produced three tornadoes that damaged several homes and outbuildings.

Meteorologist Ryan Cardell with the Weather Service’s Springfield Office says there will also be a chance of severe weather Thursday, and it will be more focused in the southern half of the state.

“That’s when the main upper-level dynamics are going to come through sweeping the main frontal boundary through the area from the west,” says Cardell. “That is probably going to be the better chance for any higher-end severe weather, like tornadoes.”

Cardell says heavy rainfall in localized areas could result in flooding as well, but severe weather is considered the primary threat.

For information for your area, tune in to your Missourinet affiliate station and visit these NWS pages.

In northwest and western Missouri:  Kansas City (Pleasant Hill)

In northeast and eastern Missouri:  St. Louis

In southwest Missouri:  Springfield

In southeast Missouri:  Paducah, KY

Scotland and Clark counties:  Davenport, IA

Weather Service finds evidence of three tornadoes from Thursday storms

The National Weather Service office in Kansas City has completed its assessments following yesterday’s storms. It believes one supercell thunderstorm spawned three separate tornado touchdowns along about a 35-mile path from around Weatherby to east of Spickard in northwest Missouri.

The first tornado touched down at about 3:03 p.m. about 3 miles east of Weatherby. It traveled more than 9 miles in about 12 minutes and left a damage path up to 200 yards wide. It produced EF-1 damage, meaning its winds are estimated to have reached up to 110 miles per hour.

The last of three tornadoes in northwest Missouri on Thursday, March 27 2014 touched down in Crowder State Park and passed north of Trenton. (photo from Facebook)

The last of three tornadoes in northwest Missouri on Thursday, March 27 2014 touched down in Crowder State Park and passed north of Trenton. (photo from Facebook)

The second tornado was on the ground for less than three miles after it touched down at 3:22 p.m., north of Jameson. It caused EF-2 damage, with winds estimated at up to 130 miles per hour before lifting off the ground after 5 minutes. 

The final tornado touched down in Crowder State Park northwest of Trenton at 3:55 p.m. and traveled more than 13 miles northeast to east of Spickard in 20 minutes. It left a damage path up to 500 yards wide and also produced EF-2 damage.

No injuries have been reported but homes, outbuildings and trees were damaged.

See more from the National Weather Service’s Assessment of the March 27, 2014 storms

“We were really fortunate with this event,” says Warning Coordination Meteorologist Andy Bailey of the fact the storms caused no injuries despite the damage to homes and structures. “There were probably half a dozen to ten houses that were pretty heavily damaged along the path. I know of at least one mobile home that was completely destroyed.”

Bailey says it is possible other tornado touchdowns have gone unreported.  Anyone who wants to report additional damage to the Weather Service for assessment can contact the local county emergency manager, or can reach the Weather Service on its Facebook page.

Slight risk of severe storms this afternoon, evening in Missouri

There is a slight risk that storms expected to pass through the state today will be severe, according to the National Weather Service.

This weather graphic courtesy of the National Weather Service office in Springfield.

This weather graphic courtesy of the National Weather Service office in Springfield.

Meteorologist Jared Leighton says a storm system moving in from the west is expected to spur thunderstorm development along a cold front. Storms are expected to develop in far eastern Kansas and move into western Missouri in the early to mid afternoon.

Leighton says the storms will move quickly through western and central Missouri.

“Storm motion will be straight to the east at perhaps up to 50, 60 miles per hour,” says Leighton. He predicts they will be in eastern Missouri and the St. Louis area around 7 or 8 p.m.

“We are expecting strong storms. They will be able to produce some hail, maybe even some winds,” says Leighton. “We’re not expecting any tornadoes. It’s not something we can rule out completely but definitely not something we’re expecting any kind of widespread activity on that.”

Leighton says southwest Missouri could see the strongest storms in the state.

“The strongest storms could form in southeast Kansas, east Kansas into far western Missouri. By the time the system actually gets into central and southeast Missouri it will probably be lined out into kind of a squall line. At that point your tornado threat is virtually nothing and your hail threat is very minimal as well. You’re basically a wind threat at that point,” says Leighton. “If you’re anywhere southeast of basically a Columbia to Springfield line you’re probably going to see a squall line … heavy rain, lighting, maybe some winds but that’s about it.”

For information for your area, tune in to your Missourinet affiliate station and visit these NWS pages.

In northwest and western Missouri:  Kansas City (Pleasant Hill)

In northeast and eastern Missouri:  St. Louis

In southwest Missouri:  Springfield

In southeast Missouri:  Paducah, KY

Scotland and Clark counties:  Davenport, IA

Missouri to go from highs in 70s and 80s to snow tonight, 30-degree cooler highs Wed

The warm temperatures of the last day and a half are being abruptly interrupted today.

The latest weather graphic from the National Weather Service office in Pleasant Hill.

The latest weather graphic from the National Weather Service office in Pleasant Hill.

The National Weather Service says a cold front pushing through in the next few hours will drop temperatures significantly. National Weather Service Meteorologist Chris Bowman says it will also bring precipitation falling as rain generally south of Interstate 70 but farther north, it could fall as accumulating snow.

“Kind of centered around the Kirksville area,” is where Bowman says the snow will fall. “Right now we have about two to four inches of snow forecast.”

Thunderstorms could develop along the front today, but the Weather Service does not anticipate them to become severe. The lowest chance for precipitation in the state today is in southeast Missouri.

Bowman says the front will also usher in windier conditions.

“Look for winds across western Missouri probably in the 40 to 50 miles-per-hour range this evening through early tonight.”

Behind the front, Bowman says high temperatures will be 30 to 35 degrees cooler tomorrow than today.

“Fortunately we’re in climatological spring. The sun angle’s getting higher so these systems don’t stick around for very long,” Bowman says. “Wednesday looks to be well below normal with temperatures in the 30s to 40s, but then for Thursday it looks like we warm right back up into the 50s and 60s.”

A chance of rain mixed with snow is also in the forecast for the weekend.