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Strong storms could coincide with graduations across Kansas this weekend

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Friday, May 17, 2013, at 8:13 p.m.
  • Updated Saturday, May 18, 2013, at 3:08 p.m.

Even as they’re gathering for graduation ceremonies and other outdoor activities this weekend, weather officials warn, Kansas residents better keep a close eye on the sky.

Violent weather – including tornadoes, large hail and damaging winds – is possible Saturday and Sunday in Kansas and elsewhere in the nation’s midsection.

“I’m very concerned that violent tornadoes and hailstones baseball size and even larger may occur,” AccuWeather vice president Mike Smith wrote on his blog, Meteorological Musings.

The Storm Prediction Center has placed northwest Kansas and southwest Nebraska under a moderate risk for severe weather Saturday, with tornadoes and large hail possible.

More violent weather is expected Sunday, but forecasters say what happens and where it happens will depend on where atmospheric boundaries set up in the wake of Saturday’s storms.

“We’ll get the leftovers of what fired Saturday,” said Suzanne Fortin, meteorologist-in-charge of the Wichita branch of the National Weather Service.

With so much uncertainty in the forecast, she said, people will want to monitor conditions closely and be prepared to seek shelter quickly.

“There’s so many graduations this weekend,” Fortin said, emphasizing the importance of planning. That means being aware of where to take shelter in an arena or auditorium, or where shelter is possible for people attending outdoor ceremonies.

Sunday’s tornado threat appears to be highest south and east of the Kansas Turnpike, weather officials said.

“I’m guessing it might be a skip over of Wichita,” Fortin said of the tornado threat.

But the metro area could still be hit by strong thunderstorms early in the afternoon, she said. Hail, heavy rain and high winds are possible.

“It just really depends on where those boundaries set up,” she said.

Reach Stan Finger at 316-268-6437 or sfinger@wichitaeagle.com.

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