Severe weather could be coming this weekend

The area could see severe storms this weekend, including a slight risk of tornadoes.

The National Weather Service predicts thunderstorms will hit Lawrence beginning this morning with increasing chance of severe weather as the day progresses.

Forecasts include potential for strong winds and large hail in Douglas, Franklin, Jefferson and Shawnee counties. Forecasters say high dew points, wind speeds and general instability could create favorable conditions for super-cell thunderstorms and possibly tornadoes.

There’s about an 80 percent chance of severe thunderstorms developing today in Lawrence, said Kris Sanders, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Topeka. Those thunderstorms may create a squall line, meaning that several cells of inclement weather, including high winds, may hit.

These storms may bring large hail and winds up to 60 mph. Sanders said Douglas County could get an inch of rain by the end of the event.

Having a chance of tornadic activity is “uncommon but not unheard of,” he said.

“This happening this time of year is not unlike the transition from winter to spring; it’s a battling of the air masses between warm and cold,” he said. “Now we have cold air building in Canada as the days get shorter, but still have warm air masses coming in, too.”

Those warm-air pockets may settle in over swaths as big as the Mississippi and Missouri valleys, The Associated Press reports, putting almost all of the Midwest in the path of possible super-cells. Super-cells hit before squall lines, so the threat of hail or tornadic activity is replaced by that of strong winds.

The forecast for Sunday is much calmer, with a destabilizing of winds and a temperature prediction in the mid-70s.

Concerns about the potential for storms prompted the postponement of Saturday’s Sunflower League Invitational cross country meet at Rim Rock Farm, north of Lawrence. The meet has been rescheduled for Monday.

Check today for severe weather updates.