This afternoon the Kansas City Star reported that the National Weather Service says that one or more EF2-3 tornadoes touched down in the wee hours today in the Kansas City Northland. This begs a few observations:
1. I was quite wide awake at the time that these tornadoes touched down, and I’d probably attest to the fact that yes, they sounded like tornadoes. But…
2. We were told repeatedly through the evening that while “round two” of the storms coming overnight would potentially be severe, they WOULD NOT be tornadic. And…
3. There was no tornado watch OR warning for my immediate area during the time that the tornadoes touched down.
So let’s think about this.
A. Squall line storms can and do produce tornadoes, just less predictably than super-cells – and they are much harder to detect on radar. I would expect that the NWS would need a trained spotter confirmation to render a tornado warning during that type of storm, rather than the warnings they base on “hook echoes” seen during super-cell events.
B. If it is know that these type of storms can produce tornadoes, why wasn’t there a tornado watch for the remainder of the early morning hours, instead of ending at 1am as we were told during the 10pm news? Instead, why did we go to bed expecting the worst to be possibly high straight-line winds (which can of course be quite destructive) and potentially damaging hail?
The true irony of the past 24 hours is that the local TV affiliates preempted hours of programming (collectively) during prime time to follow tornadoes that largely didn’t cause any damage, but managed to give little to no indication to viewers that the real danger was coming in the overnight hours – probably because they themselves didn’t expect it.