Finger on the Weather

Strong storms – including tornadoes – still possible later today

Large hail, strong winds and perhaps a tornado or two are possible in southern Kansas – including the Wichita metropolitan area – Tuesday afternoon and evening.

“Very large hail and tornadoes” are the most severe threat, said Kevin Darmofal, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Wichita.

The prime time for the worst of the weather is from about 5 to 7 p.m. in the Wichita area, he said. Hail could be as large as baseballs.

“You never know with the nature of storms,” Darmofal said, “but definitely the threat’s going to be in south-central Kansas and the Wichita area.”

A tornado watch has been issued for 29 counties in Kansas until 9 p.m. Wichita and the metropolitan area are included in the watch.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Storm Prediction Center has projected a 10 percent chance of tornadoes from Wichita south into Oklahoma, with a 5 percent chance for a large slice of eastern Kansas.

Isolated thunderstorms will fire up west of Wichita on Tuesday afternoon and then track eastward, Darmofal said. The tornado threat will be highest with these supercell thunderstorms, he said.

Eventually, the storms will morph into a squall line, bringing strong winds and heavy rain. The winds could be 70 mph, weather officials say.

Wichita Fire Department officials on Tuesday urged residents to avoid low-lying areas along and near the Arkansas River over the next several days. Because the soil is still saturated, it won’t take much rain to trigger another round of flooding.

“Please, do not drive into flooded roadways,” Fire Chief Ronald Blackwell said in a statement. “You are putting yourself, your family and emergency workers in peril when you drive into flooded streets.”

A slow-moving storm system brought heavy rains to Sedgwick County on Thursday night, Sept. 8, 2016, prompting flash flood warnings throughout south-central Kansas. (Travis Heying/The Wichita Eagle)