High Plains Public Radio

tornado

Tanner Colvin / AP photo

Roughly fifty tornados were sighted in Kansas last week, according to The Wichita Eagle. The most powerful was an EF-4 that grew to a half-mile wide. The twister was on the ground for 90 minutes and its roar could be heard two miles away. This sort of activity is par for the course in Tornado Alley. Bryan Baerg, a meteorologist with the Topeka branch of the National Weather Service, explained: “It’s late May, so it comes with the territory.”

Dave Hall / The Guardian

An editor for the British news site The Guardian recently went on a trek with a team of Oklahoma stormchasers. His expectations were low—he knew seeing a tornado was rare, even for these intrepid weather watchers.

Sentry Siren / New York Times

May and early June are the busiest time of the year for tornados on the High Plains. And that means many flatlanders are used to the sounds of tornado sirens in their neighborhoods. In our highly technological era, it might seem like tornado sirens have outlived their usefulness. But, as The New York Times reports, the sirens are still putting an old technology to good use.

weather.gov/norman / KGOU

April’s weather was exceptionally aggressive this year in Oklahoma, reports KGOU. Despite early fears of a growing drought, the state saw the seventh-wettest April on record. Statewide, Oklahoma received more than six inches of precipitation during the month.

wyrk.com

It’s going to be an ordinary spring for weather in Oklahoma. The basic outlook for March through May is above-average rainfall, but normal temperatures. May is peak tornado time in the state, but so far, meteorologists are predicting a below average season for severe storms and twisters. And we all know, that means you’d still better hang onto your hats.

Christopher Connelly / KERA

Meteorologists say basements are one of the best places to take shelter during a tornado. But for some reason, Texas has a woeful lack of basements, according to KUT Austin. Some say the lack of cellars is due to the expansive soil in Texas. When Texas dirt gets wet, it swells. Then it shrinks again in the summer. That makes building basements difficult.

Another Slow Year for Tornadoes

Dec 18, 2015
Justin1569 / Wikimedia Commons

In an age of uncommon and harrowing weather incidents that seem to appear almost weekly, here’s some refreshing news. For the fourth consecutive year, the number of tornadoes in the United States was well below normal, reports The Wichita Eagle. This year saw about 15 percent fewer tornadoes than usual. And most of the tornadoes that did appear were extremely weak. More than 63 percent of the tornadoes that touched down by the end of October were rated EF-0. This means they had winds of between 65 and 85 mph.

A Crazy Week for Weather on the High Plains

Nov 19, 2015
Severe Studios

it’s been a crazy weather week on the High Plains. You name it, we’ve seen it. The flatlands have experienced snow, rain, tornadoes, hail, and unseasonably warm weather.

No Place for Sissies

Jun 1, 2015

We invited a French exchange student to share our lives for six weeks one summer. Her first question after she deposited her luggage in the bedroom was, “Do you have tornadoes here?”

Video of a tornado churning across the Texas Panhandle

Apr 23, 2015

Last week brought some severe weather to the region. A video from social media shows the twister on Thursday in the Texas Panhandle. There were 11 tornado reports submitted to the National Weather Service on Thursday afternoon. Four in the Texas Panhandle and far western Oklahoma.

A Tornado History Lesson

Apr 10, 2015
David Drummond / David Drummond Photography

Outbreak patterns are shifting in Tornado Alley

Nov 30, 2014
noaanews.noaa.gov

Tornado alley is undergoing a transformation.  The Wichita Eagle reports the number of days with damaging tornados has fallen sharply.  But the number of days with large outbreaks has climbed dramatically.

city-data.com

Tornado season has begun, and it’s off to a pretty quiet start, but weather officials say that won’t last according to a recent article in the Wichita Eagle.

School's Out for.... Severe Weather?

Jul 16, 2013
rootsweb.ancestry.com

  The Oklahoma Department of Education requires schools to provide 175 days of instruction.  Districts can cancel school for any weather, anytime of the year.  

Oklahoma is the beating heart of tornado alley. State Impact Oklahoma reports community tornado shelters are closing because they are, "too popular." Listen to the audio feature.