Dozens of tornadoes sweep across plains Saturday; storms continue early Sunday
BY Staff Reports
Saturday, April 14, 2012
4/15/12 at 5:52 PM
Forecasters on Saturday expanded a rare “high risk” area for tornadoes, and dozens of tornadoes were sighted, primarily in Kansas.
A fatal tornado swept through Woodward early Sunday and a tornado tracked across the southern edge of Wichita late Saturday.
In Oklahoma early Sunday, a line of thunderstorms developed in the western part of the state and were tracking east-northeast. The storms could produce strong winds, lightning, hail and tornadoes, according to the National Weather Service.
Click here to read an updated story on fatal storms that swept through the northwest Oklahoma town of Woodward.
“A significant tornado outbreak is expected later today and tonight across portions of Nebraska, Kansas and Oklahoma,” the National Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center in Norman said.
The high risk area includes central and north-central Oklahoma, and much of eastern Kansas and Nebraska. There is a moderate risk for severe weather in the Tulsa area tonight, forecasters said.
The National Weather Service in Tulsa said that while a few showers developed in the area early Saturday afternoon, “The main event still looks to unfold later this evening and overnight in our area with the potential for scattered tornadic supercells (thunderstorms) to move into the area from the west near or after dark, followed by a severe squall line (of thunderstorms) advancing into the area after midnight.”
Several tornado warnings had been issued Saturday afternoon in northwest Oklahoma, western Kansas, eastern Nebraska and southwest Iowa, according to the weather service.
A tornado watch that had been in effect for several hours for western Oklahoma and parts of Kansas was extended to Pawnee and Osage counties until 2 a.m. Sunday.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency issued a news release Saturday afternoon urging residents to listen to weather radio and monitor local news reports for the latest conditions, saying, "these conditions could be life-threatening.
"It's vitally important to listen to NOAA Weather Radio and local news to monitor for severe weather updates and warnings and follow the direction provided by local officials," FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate said in the release.
The agency has teams on standby to support affected areas if needed, the release said.
Courtesy Storm Prediction Center, Norman
Courtesy National Weather Service, Tulsa
Counties in yellow are under a tornado watch until 2 a.m. Sunday. Courtesy National Weather Service, Tulsa