It’s been a sleepy season for tornadoes in Kansas.
Through the end of June, preliminary numbers indicate 2014 is among the quietest years for tornadoes in the Sunflower State in almost a quarter-century. There have been 33 tornadoes in Kansas so far this year, fewer than any year since 1990 except for 1994’s 30.
There have been only 7 tornadoes in the 26 counties of southeast Kansas that are under the warning jurisdiction of the Wichita branch of the National Weather Service.
“The sheer number of storms just haven’t been developing” in Kansas or the Great Plains as a whole, said Chance Hayes, warning coordination meteorologist for the local branch of the weather service.
Tornadoes most commonly form when warm, moist air from the Gulf of Mexico collides with cold air sliding down from the north. But jet stream patterns kept the door closed to the Gulf, even as strong fronts were rolling through Kansas on a regular basis.
“Remember when we were having 40-mile-an-hour winds about every other day?” asked Ken Cook, a meteorologist with the weather service.
Forecasters don’t expect the tornado numbers to jump anytime soon. Now that July is here, the temperature contrasts in colliding air masses won’t be found in Kansas or much of the Great Plains.
“It shifts to the north,” Hayes said.
Most folks in these parts won’t consider that bad news.
Tornado numbers are down nationwide as well, according to data compiled by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Storm Prediction Center. Preliminary numbers through July 6 have 783 tornadoes around the U.S., down more than 20 percent from the average total over the past 10 years of 1046.