Thunderstorms bearing hail as big as grapefruit and winds approaching hurricane strength lashed portions of the Great Plains, but arrived without the grand tornadoes that many had worried about for days.
A rope tornado brushed fields south of Wichita, Kansas, and another small twister touched down in southwestern Indiana on Tuesday. As the sun went down on the western prairie, he Storm Prediction Center had received reports of bad weather from Texas to Nebraska to West Virginia, but none of them deadly.
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“It’s never straightforward when you’re sitting here talking about (predicting) large tornadoes,” meteorologist Matt Mosier said as the forecast was taking shape.
But it’s not like the weather wasn’t bad or scary. It was both.
Hail 4 inches in diameter fell in northern Kansas, northwest of Marysville, and winds hit 70 mph in Missouri and Texas while storms went through. Residents of Topeka, Kansas,
eyed the sky nervously during rush hour after forecasters warned that a supercell thunderstorm could produce a tornado at any moment.
As night fell, small twisters accompanied a line of thunderstorms as it rolled into Oklahoma City. Telltale power flashes from failing transformers pierced the twilight as another neighbourhood lost power.
Forecasters posted a tornado watch for Oklahoma and Texas until midnight, saying the atmosphere could still be unsettled enough for twisters to develop.
“This is a particularly dangerous situation,” the Storm Prediction Center alerted in red type in an afternoon advisory. It uses such language on only about 7 per cent of its tornado watches. Forecasters had predicted a 90 per cent chance of tornadoes and said 80 per cent could have winds above 111 mph in much of Oklahoma and northern Texas.
In the days ahead of the storm, forecasters had said a severe weather outbreak was possible yesterday, perhaps including tornadoes that could stay on the ground for miles.
Bad weather is expected again today in Arkansas and Missouri, then later in the week in Oklahoma, Texas and Louisiana.
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