Discussion: Severe Weather Affects Kansas & KCMO

Nathaniel discusses the severe weather that occurred Friday in Kansas City, and an issue affecting a false Tornado Warning.


Over the last week, severe weather has been an issue from Minneapolis, Kansas to Lawrence and even in KCMO last night.

Early evening on Tuesday a strong thunderstorm supercell had developed out near Ottawa and Cloud County, in Kansas, which for a brief 20-minute period prompted a tornado warning with no watch in place. This thunderstorm produced a rope tornado that had gotten photograph attention to television media to send an alert to the National Weather Service to issue that warning. This storm when it developed interacted with a cold front over the area that caused that rare rotation. It later continued the trend of moving due east, but no rotation stayed with the thunderstorm that then prompted some flooding over Pottawatomie, Jackson and Jefferson counties.

Moving forward to Wednesday when Central and Eastern Kansas had Severe Thunderstorm Watch No. 455 issued at 4:45 pm, which covered a line from Riley, Dickinson, McPherson, Reno, Kingman and Harper counties South and East to just near Chanute. This watch also extended to our neighbors on both sides of the border in Kansas City. This watch was originally issued for developing thunderstorm supercells out near Hill City, Concordia, and Washington, which later became a squall line of thunderstorms pushing out high winds.

During this exact storm, the Twitter account responsible for the Kansas Turnpike Authority issued an alarming tweet… “TORNADO WARNING issued for Douglas and Leavenworth Counties through 7:45 pm.” In fact, the reality behind this tweet was false, as the agency behind this warning, AccuWeather, issued the alert. According to a follow-up report by KSNW-TV, Kansas Turnpike Authority contracted out AccuWeather for severe weather alerts. “We saw the signature of a developing tornado on radar, it was southwest of the turnpike and was moving towards the turnpike,” said AccuWeather Senior Vice President and Chief Innovation Executive Mike Smith. “So because the radar signatures were strong and increasing, we issued a tornado warning.” However, during that time, the sole agency who makes the call for warnings, and who operates the WSR-88D nexrad doppler radar, the National Weather Service never issued a tornado warning for this area. Chad Omitt, the warning coordination meteorologist at the National Weather Service forecast office in Topeka which services Douglas County said: “Our radar at the time of the so-called alert tweet, showed on the velocity sweep that we had strong straight line winds, but not enough to prompt a severe thunderstorm warning.” Omitt reported that their radar signal which is using the WSR-88D in rural Wabaunsee County is received every 15 to 20 seconds. Data that is received on the internet and mobile devices are roughly 5 to 6 minutes in the refreshing time. This thunderstorm in question later on the Kansas City, Missouri side had issued a tornado warning that prompted a quick rope tornado spin-up that lasted a few minutes. The Kansas Turnpike Authority next week will be talking with their contractor, AccuWeather, as well as warning coordination meteorologists in Wichita, Topeka, and Pleasant Hill to discuss a better solution.

Friday afternoon all eyes were once again over Northeast Kansas with the possibility of severe weather as the same type of scenario from Tuesday was expected. Storm Prediction Center out from Norman, Oklahoma issued a mesoscale discussion in an opportunity to develop a tornado watch by 4:00 pm which never occurred as the conditions never came forward to triggering that watch. However later that evening in KCMO, the Country Club Plaza along Brush Creek became a problem as multiple flash flood rescues were taken place as the Brush Creek came out of its bank. According to Pleasant Hill’s National Weather Service the KCMO area received 4.75”, which caused the Brush Creek to rise 10’ in one hour’s time. Kansas City’s light rail service even had to stop servicing the area for an hour during the breach of the creek.

Forecast models are showing the area drying things out and warming up for Saturday while thunderstorms return to the area Sunday into the first weekend of September. Temperatures will climb from the lower 80’s this weekend to near 90 by next weekend. For the latest weather forecast, turn to the KSNT Storm Track NathanielJackson.com Weather Hub.