Severe weather season had been quiet this year, right up until Tuesday night. Several tornadoes touched down in the Plains, and one of them was a frighteningly large twister that churned across Kansas. Remarkably, there are few reports of damage and no injuries.
More severe weather is likely across the Central United States on Wednesday and Thursday. The Storm Prediction Center issued a moderate risk of severe storms for Wednesday evening, which means long-lived, intense storms are likely.
“Swaths of damaging winds, large to very large hail, and several tornadoes will be possible,” the center wrote Wednesday morning, “especially from northwest Missouri across central Kansas to northwest Oklahoma.”
The National Weather Service received 18 tornado reports Tuesday night, which they will be investigating and confirming on Wednesday. The largest of those was what chasers call a wedge tornado — one that is about as wide as it is tall — that tracked near the Kansas towns of Tescott and Bennington around 8 p.m. Central time. Several storm chasers were in position to capture dramatic photos and video of the tornado.
In northeast Colorado, one lonely severe thunderstorm produced hail more than an inch in diameter. Because the storm was the only show in town, so to speak, NOAA’s high-resolution GOES-16 satellite imagery was able to clearly depict the storm’s rotating updraft. This satellite loop is not showing a tornado, it is a large thunderstorm updraft above the cloud line. The most severe thunderstorms have rotating updrafts like this, which can produce very large hail and tornadoes.
Tuesday night might also have been the end of Oklahoma’s tornado “drought.” Not a single tornado has touched down in Oklahoma so far in 2018, which is the longest the state has gone into the calendar year without a twister.
The Capital Weather Gang’s Ian Livingston reported last week:
On average, about 12 tornadoes form in Oklahoma during April. It’s typically the state with the third most tornadoes annually, as well as home to some of the highest tornado odds per square mile. The longest Oklahoma had previously gone without a tornado was until April 26 in 1962.
On Tuesday night, a tornado was spotted close around Harper County, Okla., near the Kansas state line. If the National Weather Service confirms tornado damage occurred in Oklahoma, it will put an end to the state’s quiet streak.