Finger on the Weather

McConnell AFB evacuates aircraft ahead of possible severe weather

McConnell Air Force Base officials have ordered the evacuation of aircraft as a precaution due to the possibility of severe weather in the Wichita area later today.

The aircraft are being dispersed to Fairchild Air Force Base in Spokane, Wash., and Grand Forks Air Force Base in North Dakota, McConnell spokesman Colby Hardin said in a prepared statement.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Storm Prediction Center has posted a moderate threat for severe weather Tuesday stretching from south-central Nebraska to north-central Texas, through the center of the Great Plains.

“A substantial severe-weather event is expected today and tonight over parts of the central and southern Plains…with tornadoes…destructive hail and damaging wind all possible,” the agency’s outlook stated.

Nearly 3.5 million people are included in the moderate risk zone, including Dallas-Fort Worth, Oklahoma City and Wichita.

Two to three rounds of thunderstorms are expected from this atmospheric set-up, starting in Nebraska, the agency said.

“Thunderstorms will produce very large hail and damaging gusts,” the outlook states. “Tornadoes also are likely from any mature/discrete supercells.”

Storms could fire up any time after 3 p.m. in the Wichita area, according to the local branch of the National Weather Service.

“Supercell storms will have the potential to produce long track, damaging tornadoes along with destructive hail of three inches or larger,” a hazardous weather outlook released by the Wichita branch of the weather service. “Storms will persist well past sunset, resulting in a risk for nighttime tornadoes.”

According a news release from the Red Cross, volunteers and employees have been placed on high alert. Red Cross is maintaining communication with local and state officials, the release said.

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