Wichita weather: Stage set for tornado outbreak in south-central Kansas today

Conditions are ideal for a classic Great Plains tornado outbreak today in Oklahoma and southern Kansas, including the Wichita metropolitan area, weather officials say.

The Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Okla., has placed southern Kansas and most of central Oklahoma under a high risk for severe weather, including “several large, strong tornadoes,” according to a statement released by the agency.

The National Weather Service in Wichita said thunderstorms will be capable of tennis ball sized hail, damaging winds of 60 to 70 miles an hour, and large tornadoes. The area of greatest concern for “long track, strong to violent tornadoes” will be south of U.S. 50, including Wichita, Hutchinson, Kingman, El Dorado, Wellington and Winfield.

Those storms should begin to develop after 4 p.m., though a severe thunderstorm watch has been issued until 2 p.m. for 34 counties in Kansas – including the Wichita metro area.

Highs today will be in the low 80s, with gusty southeast winds nearly reaching 25 miles an hour. Strong thunderstorms are expected to continue overnight, with lows in the low 60s, and Wednesday could see more showers and thunderstorms, with a high in the low 70s.

Monitor conditions, watches and warnings, and be prepared to seek shelter quickly.

For more information on current conditions, go to our weather page.