Unless you’re living under a rock, the extreme amounts of wind and unusual warmth that we started experiencing late Tuesday night have affected just about everyone living in Wichita and across the entire Midwest. In the past week there have been tornados, windstorms, grass fires, warmth where it’s supposed to be cold, and a chill where it is supposed to feel warmer, all along with occasional rain.
What’s causing this weird weather?
Climate change is thought to be a contributing cause to these unexpected changes. There is currently a storm system moving east and as of today, its Wichita and the surrounding areas that are being affected by it. We have been experiencing warmer weather than what is expected during December with zero signs of snow whereas in past years, the frost would have arrived weeks ago. Conflicting cold fronts and high winds resulted in a devastating tornado episode in and around the state of Kentucky. Meteorologists have observed that “tornado alley” is shifting from Kansas and Oklahoma to farther out west, where tornados have recently been happening. With the heat and high winds, wildfires have also become a weather-related risk now, especially in western Kansas.
How is this affecting Wichita?
Residents of the Wichita area have been experiencing power outages, trees and fences being knocked down, objects flying away, and a swaying vehicle when driving. According to KWCH 12, Evergy has reported this as the largest power outage event in the company’s history. Multiple utility poles have fallen and/or split open and Evergy workers are doing their best to get to every issue as soon as possible. Generators in certain neighborhood have been going out, which now leaves up to 200,000 people reported to not have electricity. They have stated that fixing all of the problems and getting power back to all of their customers will take multiple days because of the severity of the situation.
School districts across the Midwest cancelled school for the 15th of December and are planning on cancelling it for the 16th too in an attempt to keep their staff and students safe. Schools that are still in session are experiencing a large number of absences as parents try to keep their children safe from these weather conditions and their possible effects while some students take this opportunity as an excuse to miss school. Various districts across the state, including USD 259, have sent out alerts that school busses may be taking longer to get the students home due to closed highways.
Cities are going as far as closing down highways to prevent accidents and are suggesting that people stay home as much as possible. Cars that are left outside are found covered in dirt that the high winds have been blowing onto them, driving puts you at risk from damage to your vehicles exterior and windows from stones and debris speeding towards you.
Local governments around Kansas have told their residents to be ready to evacuate while others are preparing to take shelter. Wildfires have occurred throughout the state and with the current weather conditions, it is likely that there are still more to come. If that wasn’t risky enough, there are also tornados touching down across the Midwest, not just in Kentucky. Just last night, Minnesota experienced its first December tornado ever recorded. There has been one death caused by a tornado reported in Iowa. A Kentucky candle factory is being sued as workers claim they were not allowed to leave without being fired, all as the tornado warnings grew more serious.
Businesses are taking precautionary measures while some go as far as closing down for the day as they try to protect the store and its products while keeping their staff members safe as well. Many will be experiencing monetary losses as food products spoil with the fridges and freezers being unable to remain cold on their own.
For more information regarding the weather and its effects, stay on the lookout for radio broadcasts, news channel reports, and check the weather channel periodically.