The first round of strong to severe storms started sweeping through the Kansas City area Wednesday afternoon, bringing strong winds, downpours and hail.
The storms started moving into the Johnson County area shortly before 2 p.m. Heavy downpours were reported throughout the Kansas City area, including the Zona Rosa shopping district and downtown Kansas City.
The National Weather Service in Pleasant Hill, Mo., issued a special weather adviser for Wyandotte, south-central Leavenworth and northern Johnson counties saying radar was tracking a strong thunderstorm near De Soto moving at 45 mph.
The storm produced frequent cloud to ground lightning.
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Storms intensified over the southern part of the Kansas City metro area. Winds were reported near 50 mph.
The storm caused several power outages, including on the University of Missouri-Kansas City’s Volker campus.
The school lost power about 3 p.m. Power was expected to be restored by 6 p.m. Several students had finals postponed because of the outage.
The first round of severe thunderstorms was expected to leave the Kansas City area by 3 p.m., providing the area a break for a few hours.
As the storms move out of the area, they were likely to retain wind gusts of 40 to 50 mph.
A second round of severe storms will likely sweep across the Kansas City area Wednesday evening, bringing the possibility of large hail, damaging winds and heavy rains.
An isolated tornado is also possible, according to Spencer Mell, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Pleasant Hill, Mo.
“It doesn’t look like the real show is going to start until late afternoon or early evening — right now we are looking at the 4 to 6 p.m. time frame for things to really get going,” Mell said.
This is the same storm system that produced a ferocious hailstorm in the Denver area Monday afternoon. That storm produced hail ranging in size of pebbles to tennis balls.
The hail shattered car windshields and windows and created a winter-like scene. The hailstorm may be among the costliest to hit the Denver area.
The second round of storms are expected to form along a stationary front across northern Missouri that will sag to Kansas City’s Northland area.
“The main threats that we’re going to be watching for with these storms are large hail and damaging winds,” Mell said. “With the front in the area, we can’t rule out the chance of a tornado.”
The tornado threat is low at this time. The chances for a tornado are higher in the Northland than south of the river. But it all depends on how the front moves.
The storms are expected to bring 1 to 1.5 inches of rain around the Kansas City metro area. Higher amounts could fall in some areas.
The rainfall could bring some minor river flooding, although flash flooding is not expected.
“Right now, the main focus for us is the front associated with that system,” Mell said. “The tricky part is how much sun we are going to see today.”
If the skies cloud up, the atmosphere won’t be as unstable and the severe threat will be limited, he said.
“If we stay sunny most of the day, the severe threat will continue to be enhanced as we get into that late afternoon and evening hours,” he said. “A lot will depend on the cloud cover.”
The energy of the storm will also depend on afternoon temperatures. In the Kansas City area, the high is expected to reach into the low 80s, about 10 degrees warmer than normal.
Another round of storms will be possible Thursday afternoon, mainly affecting the extreme southern part of the Kansas City metro area and points south of there.
“The weekend looks fantastic,” Mell said. “It looks like a mirror image of last weekend — which was also fantastic.”
Highs are expected to be in the middle to upper 70s on Friday and Saturday and maybe around 80 degrees on Sunday.
“We may have to weather the storm here the next day or two, but other than that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel with this fantastic weekend coming up,” Mell said.
That should make Mother’s Day weekend great for any outdoor activities, he said.