Storms likely Friday for Wichita area

Storm clouds move east into downtown Wichita late Friday afternoon. (Oct. 4, 2013)
Storm clouds move east into downtown Wichita late Friday afternoon. (Oct. 4, 2013) The Wichita Eagle

Strong thunderstorms bringing heavy rain, strong winds, large hail – and, yes, maybe a tornado or two – are expected to roll through the Wichita area Friday.

October is part of Second Season in Kansas, when severe weather – including tornadoes – becomes possible when cold air cascading down from the north collides with warm, moist air.

“We have a lot of juice” in the atmosphere, Andy Kleinsasser, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Wichita, said Thursday. “It’s a pretty energetic system. You can’t rule out an isolated tornado” in the area.

The better chances for tornadoes are in southern Minnesota and northern Iowa, Kleinsasser said, but the risk stretches as far south as Oklahoma. The cold front carrying the storm threat is moving very quickly, he said, which works against tornado development.

The primary threats in the Wichita area will be large hail and winds of up to 70 mph, according to a hazardous weather statement issued by the weather service. More than an inch of rain could fall in some spots, Kleinsasser said, with widespread amounts of a half-inch likely.

Computer models don’t agree on when the storms will reach Wichita. One projects it will be just before the morning commute. Another indicates it will be right around kickoff for the high school football games in the area. Still another says the storms won’t arrive until the games are nearly over.

“It’s going to be a wait-and-see kind of thing,” Kleinsasser said.

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