Prepare 2024: A Look Back

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By Matt Harding

Welcome to Prepare 2024, where Scott and I, along with our friends at Eagle Media help get you ready for the upcoming severe weather season! Through the course of this week, we will be looking back at last season, giving you some preparedness tips on how to safely navigate the upcoming months, along with a look ahead at what’s to come.

This week’s topics:
A Look Back | New Ways to Get Warnings | About the Fur Kids…
A Busy or Blah 2024? | The Top Weather Killer You Wouldn’t Expect

Looking Back at 2023

The 2023 severe weather season in Kansas could be best described in one phrase: drawn out. This was something we forecasted last season and was due in large part to the transition from a La Niña (cooling of the waters in the Equatorial Pacific) to a brief neutral period (neither warm nor cool waters) to a burgeoning El Niño in the same region.

 

Overall, it was another muted tornado season for Kansas, with 44 occurring. That number is a staggering 46.6% lower than the 30-year average of 81. Nine of the 44 (roughly 20%) tornadoes last season came from Chase County, including two EF-2 tornadoes during a localized tornado event on the evening of April 19.

Putting it all together, the four years from 2020-23 is the 19th the quietest tornado period for Kansas since the 1950s, with 155 tornadoes documented. The quietest period? You have to go back to the four years from 1975-1978, when only 77 tornadoes were reported.

By contrast, the four-year stretch from 2005-2008 was the busiest for Kansas, with 563 twisters reported, including the infamous Greensburg tornado.

Want an even more impressive stat to highlight the quiet tornado period in our state?

It has been 2,840 days since the last time Kansas witnessed 20 or more tornadoes in a calendar day. On May 24, 2016 (the infamous “Dodge City Day”,) 34 twisters touched down in a four-and-a-half-hour tornado outbreak across southwest Kansas.

Our Chase Season

As you have come to expect from us, Scott and I were out for every severe weather event last season. The season kicked off in late April with a chase into the Flint Hills that ended in a blue sky bust for us, but it was a good way to shake off the rust.

But as it always seems to do, chase season kicked up a notch in May.

It started with a chase that lends credence to the adage, “If it’s May, you chase.” May 4 was a day that featured a highly conditional setup on whether storms would even develop, but Scott and I headed west, sticking to our forecast, and coming home with a true “needle in a haystack.”

Five days later, we were treated to a picturesque chase on May 9, that featured some incredible storm structure shots, including this gorgeous shelf cloud at the Pratt/Stafford county line.

Two days later, we were in Southwest Kansas, for a setup that looked fruitful for tornadoes, but ended up being largely frustrating from a reporting standpoint.

Our chases continued into July, when we were following a monster supercell that developed in north central Kansas and continued south into Oklahoma.

This photo came as the storm was moving into Pratt on the evening of July 16:

What Does This Season Hold for Kansas?

This, in the business, is what we call a tease. Coming up on Thursday, I’ll take a look back at how the weather we had this past Fall and Winter could impact us this Spring.

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