Weather

Winter's hesitancy to leave keeps tornadoes at bay; but peak twister season is coming

Be weather ready: Get prepared before a tornado

Tornadoes are nature's most violent storms. Get prepared and by knowing what to do before a tornado strikes. Doing so could help save lives.
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Tornadoes are nature's most violent storms. Get prepared and by knowing what to do before a tornado strikes. Doing so could help save lives.

The curse of April snowstorms and record lows might have actually been a blessing for the Kansas City region.

The cooler weather has kept tornadoes and severe weather at bay so far this year, said Al Pietrycha, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Pleasant Hill.

"The region itself has been very quiet," Pietrycha said. "We have seen very little severe weather."

Kansas City is not alone. Both Kansas and Oklahoma have yet to see their first tornadoes of the year. Typically, the two states each see about a dozen tornadoes in April alone.

If tornadoes continue to shun the two states, records could be broken. The latest first occurrence of a tornado for the year in Oklahoma was on April 26, 1962.

For Kansas, the latest is May 28, 1980, according to the National Weather Service in Topeka.

A handful of tornadoes have already touched down this year in Missouri, including a small one on Jan. 21 southeast of Hoberg, near Mt. Vernon, and two that hit sparsely-populated rural areas near Macomb and Dawson in Wright County in south-central Missouri on April 13.

Missouri sees an average of 45 tornadoes a year, while Kansas sees an average 95 and Oklahoma sees an average of 62 tornadoes, according to the National Centers for Environmental Information based on the period of 1991 to 2010.

A slow start to the season doesn't necessarily mean a below average year. The 2010 Oklahoma season started off slow, but on May 10, 56 tornadoes touched down in less than 6 hours, according to the National Weather Service in Norman, Okla.

Don't start thinking that Kansas City is out of the woods yet. The tornado season typically doesn't peak until late May into early June.

And with it starting to warm up, the risk for severe weather increases too.

The Kansas City could enter an active weather period by the middle to end of next week that could bring showers and thunderstorms, Pietrycha said.

"We will see how things progress," he said.

Robert A. Cronkleton: 816-234-4261, @cronkb
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