Tornado watch: Rare ‘high risk’ issued for central Oklahoma, southern Kansas

Forecasters say millions of people in the central United States are bracing for powerful storms on Monday, including long-track tornadoes, hurricane-force winds, and baseball-sized hail. The high risk areas include parts of Kansas and much of Oklahoma, including Sulphur and Holdenville, which are still recovering from last month’s tornado. The bad weather left four dead and thousands without electricity at the time.

A rare ‘high-risk’ tornado watch has been issued for central Oklahoma and southern Kansas(REUTERS)

Rare ‘high risk’ issued for Oklahoma, Kansas

As rare “high risk” has been issued for central Oklahoma and southern Kansas, the National Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center notes that nearly 10 million people reside in the areas under threat of severe weather conditions. Following the alert, public schools in Oklahoma and other metro-area districts cancelled all after-school events.

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“It’s the highest level of threat we can assign. And it’s a day to take very, very seriously,” said Bill Bunting, Storm Prediction Center’s deputy director. Bunting warned that such an alert is not something that is “seen every day or every spring,” per Associated Press. Other cities that are likely to face severe weather conditions include Kansas City, Missouri and Lincoln, Nebraska.

The outlet adds that Oklahoma’s State Emergency Operations Center, which coordinates storm response from a bunker near the state Capitol, remains activated following last weekend’s deadly storms. The state’s commissioner of public safety told state agencies to let most state workers across the state leave early on Monday.

March 31, 2023, was the last time a “high risk” was issued. At the time, a massive storm devoured parts of the South and Midwest, including Arkansas, Illinois, and rural Indiana. AccuWeather Chief Meteorologist Jon Porter notes that Monday’s tornado watch and severe alert weather is the “worst in five years.”

“If you look at a meteorology textbook about how to get a significant tornado outbreak in the southern Plains, all the ingredients you need are here today,” Porter said, adding that the thunderstorms could produce winds exceeding 80 mph. Such “supercell” storms often result in destructive tornadoes.

“The kinds of tornadoes that this storm can produce are particularly intense, and they can be long-lasting,” Porter said, adding, “These are the tornadoes that sometimes can last for 45 minutes or an hour, even more, creating paths of destruction as they move along.”

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