Tornadoes today will be strong, fast-moving

People will need to be prepared to seek shelter quickly today when tornadoes threaten, weather officials say.

Any tornadoes that develop could become strong and will be moving at 45 to 50 miles an hour, said Brad Ketcham, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Wichita.

“You may think you can out-run it, but you can’t,” Ketcham said. “Or you think you’ve got time to take cover, and you really don’t.

“This is a pretty dynamic system,” he said. “You don’t see days like this (with these conditions) very often.”

Tornadoes that develop today could resemble the EF4 that devastated the southern half of Joplin Sunday – large, rain-wrapped and difficult to see, he said. That tornado killed at least 116 and injured perhaps 400.

Survivors talked about not being able to see the tornado, and seeking shelter only at the last minute, Ketcham said.

Forecasters expect storms to fire up along a dry line stretching from north of Great Bend through Harper County into Oklahoma, and then move northeast – toward cities such as Kingman, Hutchinson and Wichita.

“Several potentially significant tornadoes appear likely” today, according to a statement issued by the Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Okla.

Conditions today do not appear to resemble other major tornado outbreaks, such as Greensburg in 2007 or Moore/Oklahoma City in 1999, Ketcham said. But it still promises to be a dangerous day in the area, he said, so people need to be on alert.

Thunderstorms are expected to begin developing in the region by about 4 p.m., forecasters say.

Other major metropolitan areas facing a high threat of severe weather include Tulsa and Oklahoma City.