Weather News

Tornado watch issued for Kansas City metro area across Kansas and Missouri counties

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The National Weather Service has issued a tornado watch for the Kansas City metropolitan area and surrounding counties as severe weather is expected to roll into the area Tuesday afternoon.

There’s potential for strong, damaging tornadoes as powerful as an EF-2 or higher, according to the National Weather Service in Pleasant Hill.

The tornado watch includes Jackson, Clay, Platte, Cass, Clinton and Ray counties in Missouri and Johnson, Wyandotte, and Leavenworth counties in Kansas. In total, 7 counties in Kansas and 22 counties in Missouri are under the tornado watch.

A tornado watch means there are tornadoes possible in and near the watch area. People are urged to be prepared.

In contrast, a tornado warning means a tornado has been sighted or indicated by weather radar. In this case people are urged to take cover.

The tornado watch Tuesday was issued as severe thunderstorms are expected to roll through the Kansas City area.

The main threat area has shifted south and includes the Kansas City metro, according to the latest update from the weather service.

Widespread severe thunderstorms are likely. These storms could produce wind damage, large, destructive hail and tornadoes, according to the weather service.

Some of the storms could produce very large hail ranging in size between that of a golf ball and a tennis ball.

The highest risk period for the storms will be between 4 p.m. and 9 p.m.

Some parts of northern Missouri could see more than 2 inches of rain. The Kansas City area is expected to receive .5 or 1 inch of rain. Some areas could see higher amounts.

The rain could lead to additional flooding or cause existing flooding to worsen. Already, record flooding is forecast for the Tarko River at Fairfax, Missouri, Grand River at Chillicothe and Brunswick, Missouri, and Chariton River at Prairie Hill, Missouri.

The Grand River at Sumner, Missouri, is within a half foot of record flooding.

A flash flood watch is in effect through Wednesday morning across northern Missouri, where the heavier rain is expected to fall.

People will need to remain weather aware Tuesday if warnings are issued, whether it’s a severe thunderstorm or a tornado warning, said Andy Bailey, warning coordination meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Pleasant Hill.

People will need to heed those warnings and seek shelter.

“The severe thunderstorms we see today could be quite powerful, could produce low-end tornado-like damage,” Bailey said. “So if it’s ‘only’ a severe thunderstorm warning, it still has potential to be very devastating as the storms move through the afternoon and evening hours.”

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Robert A. Cronkleton gets up very early in the morning to bring readers breaking news about crime, transportation and weather at the crack of dawn. He’s been at The Star since 1987 and now contributes data reporting and video editing.