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Finger on the Weather has moved

Finger on the Weather has moved to the new Kansas.com. You can find it at www.kansas.com/finger-on-the-weather/.

Wichita weather: Not as cold

It’ll be notably warmer today in the Wichita area, forecasters say – but after the harsh cold of Monday, that doesn’t take a great deal.

Highs today are expected to reach the low 30s, but not before wind chills again linger near 0 early in the day. Winds will ease to single digits under mostly cloudy skies, becoming westerly during the day.

Lows tonight will dip into the teens, with light winds out of the west-northwest easing to stillness.

Wednesday offers more sunshine, forecasters say, but also much more wind. Highs could reach the mid-40s – or about the normal high for this time of year – with winds stirring from the south into the teens and then the low 20s by afternoon. Gusts could approach 35 miles an hour.

For more information on current conditions, go to our weather page.

Chance Storm “sings” Christmas carols

You may remember Chance as the automated voice on NOAA’s weather radios. Here he is “singing” a Christmas carol…though if you ask me, it’s more of a rap.

Wichita weather: Warm and windy

Summer makes a cameo appearance today in the Wichita area, with highs touching 90 and southerly winds reaching blow-your-hat-off speeds.

Gusts could approach 30 miles an hour under mostly sunny skies, forecasters say. Steady breezes will be in the teens.

Lows tonight will dip into the mid-60s, with winds losing little of their energy. Gusts will still top 25 miles an hour.

Friday will echo Thursday, forecasters say, with highs in the upper 80s and south winds gusting to more than 30 miles an hour.

Showers and thunderstorms move in early Saturday, bringing cooler temperatures with them.

For more information on current conditions, go to our weather page.

Wichita weather: Summer pays a late visit

Wichita may be done with the 100s for 2013 – there were 13 of those, for anyone who’s counting – but the 90s are not ready to say farewell yet.

There could well be another 90 today in the metropolitan area, forecasters say, as gusty south winds under mostly sunny skies help hoist the temperature in classic summertime fashion. Those gusts will top 30 miles an hour at times.

Overnight lows will stay in the 70s, forecasters say, and Thursday brings more warm temperatures and a good chance of showers and thunderstorms in afternoon and evening. Highs should climb into the upper 80s, with south-southwesterly winds in the teens gusting to nearly 30 miles an hour.

Rain is likely to persist into the overnight hours before skies clear on Friday, forecasters say. Highs will climb near 80 under partly cloudy skies, shepherding the arrival of another stretch of dry weather for the Wichita area.

For more information on current conditions, go to our weather page.

Wichita weather: Scattered thunderstorms later in the day

Scattered showers and thunderstorms are possible in a wide swath of Kansas today, including the Wichita metropolitan area.

The storms are most likely west of the Flint Hills, according to the National Weather Service. Highs today under mostly cloudy skies will reach the mid-80s, forecasters say, with south-southeast winds in the teens and gusting to more than 25 miles an hour.

Storm chances will persist through the evening and into Thursday morning, forecasters say, with lows dipping just below 70. Highs on Thursday are projected to surge into the 90s.

A dry spell with a string of 90s then arrives late in the week and stretches through early next week, forecasters say.

For more information on current conditions, go to our weather page.

Wichita weather: A stormy stretch arrives

Chances for showers and thunderstorms enter the Wichita forecast today and will linger for the next several days.

Some of the storms could be severe on Wednesday, forecasters warn, so residents will need to be alert to conditions and take shelter if violent weather develops.

Highs today will be in the mid-80s, with a slight chance of showers and thunderstorms late in the afternoon and into the evening. Winds will be breezy out of the south, blowing steadily in the upper teens to low 20s, with gusts topping 30 miles an hour. Overnight lows will only dip into the upper 60s, forecasters say, with skies staying mostly cloudy and southerly winds remaining gusty.

More thunderstorms are likely on Wednesday evening, forecasters say, with highs in the upper 70s. Winds will be blasting out of the south, feeding the storms, with steady breezes in the 20s and gusts topping 40 miles an hour.

Storms could continue overnight Wednesday, with lows sliding to the mid-60s and south winds steady in the 20s and gusting to nearly 40 miles an hour.

More storms are possible on Thursday, forecasters say.

For more information on current conditions, go to our weather page.

National Weather Service completes radar upgrades

Brownsville has become the answer to a trivia question: What is the last The National Weather Service branch to have its radar updated to dual-polarization technology?

The south Texas branch was among 122 NWS radar sites to receive the upgrades, which began nearly two years ago. The updated technology is helping federal weather forecasters more accurately track, assess and warn the public of approaching high-impact weather.

The Wichita branch was among the first in the nation to receive the upgrade, with the installation occurring in July 2011.

Dual-polarization is the most significant enhancement made to the nation’s federal weather radar system since Doppler technology was first installed in the early 1990s, officials for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said.

Dual-pol radar sends and receives both horizontal and vertical pulses, which produces a much more detailed picture of the size and shape of the objects in the sky. This provides meteorologists the ability to distinguish between rain, snow, hail and non-weather items such as wildfire smoke plumes, birds and insects. Conventional Doppler radar only has a one-dimensional view, making it difficult to tell the type of precipitation or object in the sky.

The new radars have been able to detect debris balls created by tornadoes, offering further confirmation of a damaging twister.

“This achievement is the result of years of research, development and continued investment that’s helping us become a more weather-ready nation,” said Dr. Louis Uccellini, director of NOAA’s National Weather Service, in a prepared statement. “It is amazing what we can see with dual-pol technology. This game-changing technology has already helped forecasters issue more accurate and timely warnings to the public and has saved lives.”

Dual-pol is credited with providing improved detection of heavy rainfall, which can increase warning time for flash floods. During winter storms, forecasters use dual-pol information to monitor a transition from snow to sleet and freezing rain, which allows for a more accurate forecast. Dual-pol can also spot airborne debris giving forecasters the ability to confirm a tornado on the ground, even in the dark or when hidden by heavy rain. The new technology has also been used to help detect hazards to aircraft, such as volcanic ash plumes, icing conditions and birds.

The National Weather Service has used dual-pol to develop 14 new radar products that have improved the speed, understanding, and accuracy of the information it provides about extreme weather. Forecasters now have more confidence to accurately assess weather events and be more descriptive in weather warnings, which helps improve public response to the warnings.

NOAA officials touted a few “success stories” attributed to the new radar technology:

On Feb. 10, 2013, NWS weather forecasters in Jackson, Miss., used the new radar technology to confirm a powerful tornado (EF-4) was moving across Southern Mississippi’s Lamar County toward the populated city of Hattiesburg. Forecasters warned the public using detailed, descriptive language about the tornado’s size and path, resulting in no fatalities. On the same day, dual-pol information helped the Jackson forecasters recognize thunderstorms with particularly heavy rainfall rates, enabling them to issue flash flood warnings more than an hour before flash flooding started.

On Nov. 7-8, 2012, NWS meteorologists at the Boston forecast office relied on dual-pol radar information to help locate the rain/snow line as a nor’easter traversed the area. During the afternoon and evening, a storm formed across Rhode Island and eastern Massachusetts. Snow fell to the west of the boundary where temperatures dipped into the 30s, while rain fell to the east where temperatures held in the 40s. Using dual-pol information, forecasters were able to accurately track the slow progress of the rain-snow line and provide short term forecasts which helped department of transportation officials focus their snow removal assets and for the media to highlight the hazardous routes to the traveling public.

In addition to the 122 NWS-owned radars, the full nationwide radar network includes another 37 radar sites owned by the FAA and Defense Department, which will be completely upgraded to dual-pol technology this summer. NOAA’s NEXRAD radar program is a tri-agency effort with NOAA, the Federal Aviation Administration, and the United States Air Force.

With severe weather possible in Wichita area, county officials ask “Do you have a plan?”

Sedgwick County officials are urging residents of the Wichita metropolitan area to review their safety plans and assemble or refresh their disaster kit.

Severe weather, including strong winds, hail and tornadoes, is possible in south-central Kansas over the next couple of days.

County officials released a statement with the following information:

Where is the nearest shelter? Don’t wait until severe weather is threatening to identify your shelter. An underground shelter is best, but an interior room without windows on the lowest level is an option as well. In fact, this type of room may be safer than traveling a long distance to find an underground shelter. Anyone residing in a manufactured home should identify an off-site shelter; consider neighbors, relatives, churches or other nearby locations.

Stay tuned to local media outlets when severe weather is predicted. Don’t wait until you hear the sirens.

Coordinate with other family members. If you are apart when severe weather strikes, have a plan to reconnect after the storm has passed.

Consider these items for your emergency kit:

Important documents
Current medications
Water
Food (and pet food)
Clothing and bedding
Tools and supplies
First aid kit

More specific items may be found at www.sedgwickcounty.org.

Storm spotter training class tonight in Bentley

A storm spotter training class postponed by the second strong snow storm of late February will be held tonight in Bentley.

The class will be at 6:30 p.m. at the city building, 150 S. Wichita, said Cody Charvat, training and exercise officer for the Sedgwick County Emergency Management office.

The course, also dubbed a “severe weather safety class,” is free and open to the public.