Highest tornado threat shifts south of Wichita

Evolving atmospheric conditions have shifted the highest tornado threat south of Wichita for later this afternoon, weather officials say.

The Storm Prediction Center now projects a 45% chance of large tornadoes in an area encompassing central Oklahoma and the first tier of Kansas counties south of Wichita: Cowley, Sumner and Harper.

Residents of Winfield, Arkansas City and Wellington should be on heightened alert for violent storms.

Wichita is in a 30% zone, which “is still high,” said Chance Hayes, warning coordination meteorologist for the National Weather Service.

In fact, “there are a couple of outflow boundaries merging here in south-central Kansas, and we’re a little nervous about that,” he said.

Storms often fire up along those boundaries, he said, and the location would bring them right through the Wichita area. Forecast models indicate storms will fire up at about 4 p.m., which would bring them into Wichita right around rush hour.

Large hail, torrential rains, damaging winds and even possible tornadoes could come from these thunderstorms, he said.