Severe weather threat increases for Wichita area Saturday

The Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Okla., has increased the risk for severe weather in large portions of Kansas and Oklahoma to ‘moderate’ on Saturday. The Wichita metropolitan area is included in the heightened risk zone, along with Salina and Hutchinson.

Abundant moisture from the Gulf of Mexico, afternoon heating and plenty of atmospheric instability will all be present in the zone currently listed as ‘moderate.’

“These factors combined with fast storm motions suggest the potential for long-tracked strong tornadoes occurring from the afternoon through the evening – including after dark” on Saturday, SPC forecasters report.

Kansas counties inside the moderate include Harper, Kingman, Reno, Saline, Marion, Chase, Harvey, Butler, Sedgwick, Cowley, Sumner, Elk, Greenwood, McPherson and Chautauqua.

The National Weather Service in Wichita cautions that strong thunderstorms are possible on Friday afternoon and evening as well.

“Supercell type storms will be possible from Friday afternoon through Saturday night,” a hazardous weather statement issued by the weather service states. “The main threats will be very large hail of 2 inches in diameter or greater, damaging winds and possibly a strong tornado or two.”

The SPC has Wichita and a large portion of eastern Kansas in a slight risk for severe weather on Friday.

The Wichita branch of the weather service has posted a web briefing on the hazardous weather threat coming over the next few days. Monitor forecasts and conditions closely, and be prepared to take shelter as needed.