Saturday Tornado Outbreak Likely for Southern, Central Plains

NU Online News Service, April 13, 12:20 p.m. EST

The National Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center has issued an unusual "high-risk" warning a day in advance for the central United States.

The risk for severe thunderstorms is highest on Saturday for Oklahoma and Kansas, says the Storm Prediction Center.

The center says a “tornado outbreak is likely across the southern and central plains northward into the mid-Missouri Valley from Saturday afternoon through Saturday night.”

If history is an indication, this warning does not bode well for residents and businesses in the areas of highest risk.

According to Jeff Masters’ blog on Weather Underground, this is the second time the NWS Storm Prediction Center has issued a high-risk warning this year. The first time was on March 2 and the tornado outbreak that followed caused $1.5-to-$2 billion in damage and killed 41 people.

According to reports, this is only the second year the center has distributed a high-risk warning a day in advance. The last time was early April 2006 and the center was accurate then as well. Severe weather April 6-8 that year generated 73 tornadoes, killing 13 people and causing about $1.5 billion in damage.

Tornadoes grabbed many headlines in 2011 and were the most expensive type of disaster for insurers during the year.  

Severe-storm systems bringing tornadoes, hail, high wind and lightning caused $25 billion in insured losses in 2011—more than twice the previous record.

This year has continued the trend. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, there were 379 preliminary tornado reports through March 25 in 2012. There were a total of 154 tornadoes from January through March of 2011.

Impact Forecasting, the catastrophe-model-development center for Aon Benfield, says severe weather in March is expected to cause more than $1.8 billion in insured losses.

U.S. events during the first quarter included a severe-weather outbreak through parts of the Midwest, the Tennessee Valley and the Southeast during the first week of March, which spawned at least 65 tornadoes and caused over $1.1 billion in insured losses from over 170,000 claims.

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