• Last modified 670 days ago (July 16, 2020)


Auntie Em, where are all the twisters?

Staff Writer

Conditions always are ripe for severe summer storms in Kansas, but tornado season is off to a historic late start.

Through mid-July, there have been no tornadoes reported in Marion County.

The last time the county went that long without a twister was Nov. 27, 2005, said Roger Martin, a forecaster with the National Weather Service in Wichita.

Typically, there are 15 to 16 by this time, forecaster Chris Jakob said. “Now we are sitting at zero.”

The last time the national weather service’s Wichita-based coverage area, which includes nearly 40 southeast and central-Kansas counties, experienced a tornado drought this long was in 1989.

The first reported twister that year did only $2,500 in damage, Martin said.

“It’s definitely unprecedented to go that long without a tornado,” he said. “It is quite extraordinary.”

This year’s hot, quiet storm season still is a mystery to scientists.

Storms that passed through the county this spring had drier air. This often makes them more stable and less prone to spin off twisters, Martin said.

Another possibility is a spring of average temperatures in the Pacific with oscillation neither in a cooling nor a warming phase, a condition known as “ENSO-neutral.”

“It’s a neutral year,” Martin said. “In a neutral year, there are usually lower than normal tornadoes and severe weather.”

Peak tornado months for the year have passed by, which makes chances increasingly slim, Jakob said, adding that the county could still get hit with strong to severe thunderstorms.

“It would not take a lot for us this time of year,” he said.

Forecasters expect hotter, more humid air to move into the county by today with dangerous heat indexes by the end of the week. There also will be a chance of thunderstorms

“I won’t rule that out,” Martin said. “There will be a chance with each front that comes through.”

Last modified July 16, 2020