The rebuilding of Joplin after a devastating tornado struck in 2011 was generally applauded as a textbook example of how to take care of people when disaster hits. However, homeowners and businesses on the East Coast are still struggling in the aftermath of 2012's Hurricane Sandy. 


Courtesy Photo: Kansas City Zoo

Yes, it's going to be a warm weekend, but at 11 o'clock Saturday morning, you'll be treated to something special if you're at the Kansas City Zoo. Some of the zoo's penguins will be parading around the Helzberg Penguin Plaza, greeting guests.

"The birds actually seem to like it," says Director of Zoological Operations, Sean Putney."When we go in to get them, they don't quite smile, but when we walk toward the door, they follow us immediately." 

With large hail, rain and even one confirmed tornado sweeping through the Kansas City area Thursday, local Twitter users took to their cell phones with the hashtag #kswx to capture photos of the swirling, gray skies.

We put together a few highlights — or lowlights depending on your tolerance for storms — of the weather.

Much of metro Kansas City is experiencing severe weather with multiple watches and warnings throughout the listening area.

“Some of these storms are capable of producing tornadoes," says Bill Bunting, chief of forecast operations at the National Weather Service Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma. "All of them are capable of producing damaging winds in excess of 60 miles per hour and large hail, and we’ve had reports of up to baseball-size hail over Northeast Kansas.”

Bill Anderson / KCUR 89.3

It’s been a rainy couple of weeks in Kansas City and the rest of this week promises even more showers and thunderstorms. Why so much rain?

“You know the simple answer? It’s May,” Andy Bailey, warning coordination meteorologist for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, told Steve Kraske on Wednesday’s Up To Date.

Bailey says rainfall so far this season has been above average, but not enough to cause alarm.

“The unusual thing for us here, is to be above normal rainfall and yet have a relatively below normal severe weather season.”


Tuesday promises to be a wild day for weather in and around the Kansas City metro. But breathless TV forecasts and an endless social media stream of predictions and warnings may have you confused. 

This graphic produced by the National Weather Service in Kansas City sums up neatly both when and where you should be looking for severe weather: 

It’s been a mild winter in Kansas City's metro, and the lack of snow and unseasonably warm temperatures have been enjoyed by many. For people who garden, however, those conditions can present challenges.


KCUR 89.3

An anticipated winter storm moved through the Kansas City metro Tuesday, bringing snow and ice in the early afternoon with the possibility of continuing snowfall throughout the evening commute.

Many schools and churches canceled evening activities or let students out early. Here is a list of those closures from The Kansas City Star.

Heavy rainfall and swollen rivers have caused major flooding in Missouri and southern Illinois, leading to voluntary evacuations and road closures. The governors of both states have declared a state of emergency, and water levels on the Mississippi River shattered records. While this story is still developing, here are the main things you need to know about the recent floods.

At least 10 people were confirmed dead after a winter storm moved across Missouri Monday. Most of them drowned after driving along submerged roads.

Flood waters continued to submerge roads and lowlands across Missouri late Monday, including major highways. Portions of Interstate 44 were closed near Rolla and Fort Leonard Wood. I-70 eastbound was also closed in St. Charles County. 

Despite declaring a state of emergency on Sunday, Gov. Jay Nixon has no plans so far to activate the Missouri National Guard.

Jeremy Bernfeld / KCUR 89.3

This is not a dream. The Kansas City Royals are headed to the World Series for the second-straight year.

Kansas City eliminated the Toronto Blue Jays four games to two, after winning Game 6 by a score of 4-3 to take the American League pennant. The team will face the New York Mets for the Major League Baseball title.

The clinching win was anything but easy.

Bill Anderson / KCUR

There's a familiar saying in the Midwest when it comes to weather — if you don’t like it, wait five minutes.

Well, crazy Kansas City weather hasn’t let us down this year. Winter saw very little moisture, yet May was the the sixth wettest in Kansas City history and we’re right on track for record levels of precipitation as the summer continues.

The Pioneers of Meteorology

Jul 15, 2015

  The very idea of predicting the weather was once considered outrageous. Yet, the pioneers of meteorology pushed forward "against convention and religious dogma" according to Peter Moore.  The author of The Weather Experiment talks with Steve Kraske about the history of meteorology and the foundation of the first weather forecasts. 

Ray Tsang / Flickr--CC

Excessive heat warnings hit the Kansas City area on Monday and Tuesday.

And forecasters predict dangerously high temperatures  at least through mid- week.

The elderly, infants and young children, those with dementia or other cognitive impairments, and those who work outside are among the most vulnerable to heat-related illness.

Kyle Palmer / KCUR

Three days before the Fourth of July, Nelson Muller drove with his wife and four children — ages 3 to 11 — from Columbia, Missouri, to Kansas City.

They were going to his mother’s home in Gladstone, Missouri, for the holiday.

Frank Morris / KCUR

A line of storms moved through the Kansas City area early Monday evening, producing heavy rain and tornadoes.

The Clay Country Sherriff’s office reports a tornado touching down near the intersection of Interstate 35 and Highway 152 in Liberty.

A tornado also reportedly touched down in Eudora, Kansas, but in both cases, no injuries were reported.

Many intersections in the metro flooded after the thunder clouds quickly dumped several inches of rain. The Kansas City Fire Department reports high water downtown near Interstate 70 and 13th street.

Elle Moxley / KCUR

Wall clouds were reported across the Kansas City metro Wednesday night, including some reports of rotation and even brief touch downs in eastern Jackson County and Cass County.

Trained spotters and residents reported a tornado in Lee's Summit and one in Pleasant Hill. There were reports of some damage, and as of 8:11 p.m., more than 10,000 Kansas City Power & Light customers were without power. 

Sam Zeff / KCUR

Update, 8:04 a.m., Saturday

At the moment, Westar Energy isn't reporting any outages in Wyandotte or Johnson counties. Independence Power & Light reports 3,798 customers without power. The Kansas City Board of Public Utilities reports 9,873.

Kansas City Power & Light reports 22,447 outages in Jackson County and 2,333 in Johnson County.

Original post continues below

At around 2 a.m. on Friday, a storm with winds up to 80 mph rolled through the Kansas City metro area, taking down trees and power lines.

Elle Moxley / KCUR

The Kansas City area was under flash flood warning Wednesday after a storm system dumped rain across the metro, flooding intersections, filling creeks and storm drains. Intersections on both sides of the state line also flooded as storm drains proved unable accommodate the deluge.

Pamela Murray from the National Weather Service says it wasn’t just the 3-5 inches of rain that fell, but how fast it fell.

“The ground's not able to soak in the water as fast as it’s coming down, so a lot of it runs off,” says Murray. 

David DeHetre / Flickr--CC

If you were awake in the Kansas City metro around 11:25 p.m. Saturday, you may have heard a tornado siren ... but you may have not.

Around the same time, the National Weather Service was sending emergency alerts warning about flash floods in the area, creating confusion for many Kansas Citians.

Check out what Kansas Citians were tweeting:

Elle Moxley / KCUR

As Mosby, Missouri, Police Sgt. Jason Lininger helped residents evacuate their Clay County homes Sunday morning, he asked Fishing River Fire how fast the water was rising.

"At one point, it actually rose four foot in one hour," Lininger told Gov. Jay Nixon during a briefing Monday afternoon.

Severe weather this weekend spawned 10 confirmed in Bates, Henry, Caldwell, Jackson, Ray, Newton, Lawrence and Polk counties. An unconfirmed tornado near Bethany leveled several grain elevators.

But the real problem was flash flooding.

Patrick Quick / KCUR

Steve Bean is the guy who oversees Kansas City's 127 tornado sirens, each expected to alert people within a mile of potentially life-threatening storms. It's part of his job at the city's Office of Emergency Management.

Even so, he doesn't have tornado nightmares. 

"In an odd way, I love it," he admits. "We spend a lot of time preparing for the 'big one,' so to speak. So it's kind of like — I guess it's like fishing. Once in a while, you want to catch something. Now, I don't want tornados to come, but we do like to be able to see that we made a difference."

Earthquakes are more frequent than ever in Oklahoma, and they're hitting harder. KCUR's Frank Morris visits Kansas's neighbor to the South and gets perspectives and stories from those directly affected by the situation. Is the cornerstone of that state's economy shaking its foundation?

MattysFlicks / Flickr, Creative Commons

When storms roll in, some people rush to the window to watch, while others are rushing to the basement. What is the difference between a healthy fear of weather and out-of-proportion anxiety? A mother and daughter professor duo have combined their expertise in the separate fields of geography and psychology to investigate severe weather phobias.


Updated, 1:30 p.m.

According to an update on the KCP&L website: "We have restored nearly 90 percent of our affected customers. During the span of the storm, we had approximately 73,000 customers without power...Currently, we have approximately 6,500 customers remaining without power."

Our original post continues here:

Although there were no serious injuries reported in Monday night’s severe storms, rain and powerful wind gusts knocked out power for thousands across the Kansas City metropolitan area.

Mike Rodriquez / Flickr User

Despite recent storms, parts of Missouri and all of Kansas are still experiencing some level of drought. What creates these extreme conditions, and how much rain does it take to bring us back to normal?

On Wednesday's Central Standard, we talk with Brian Fuchs, who explains the mechanics of a drought.


  • Brian Fuchs​, Climatologist at the National Drought Mitigation Center

The booming thunderstorms and crazy spring weather have moved in, and any Midwesterner knows what comes with them—tornadoes. Most of us retreat to basements when those sirens sound, but a select few take that as a cue to go hunting for the cyclones. 

Frank Morris / KCUR-FM

If you think the roads you’re driving on seem worse than usual this winter, you’re probably right.The waves of snowstorms in much of the country have exhausted supplies of rock salt, the main tool that road crews use to melt ice and snow. Even areas with vast quantities of salt underground are having a hard time getting it onto their streets this year.

When Milwaukee fights road ice with cheese brine, New Jersey breaks out the pickle juice and New York, a major salt producer, declares a salt shortage, you know you’ve got a widespread problem.

MoDOT Prepares For The Next Winter Storm

Feb 7, 2014

The state of Missouri is shipping fresh supplies to storage barns in Kansas City, but there is no guarantee there will be enough to last until spring.

A tractor trailer loaded with salt pulled into a Lee’s Summit storage dome Thursday within minutes of Missouri Governor Jay Nixon's arrival for a press conference.

The dome was last filled six weeks ago, but it was virtually empty after recent snowstorms.

Missouri Department of Transportation Director, David Nichols says salt is being shipped into and then around the state to meet demand.

January 12, 1888, began as an exceptionally warm winter day. Farmers were tending to their fields as boys and girls raced to school with no coats or gloves. 

Mid-morning in the Dakotas and around afternoon dismissal in Nebraska, hurricane-force winds and torrential snow engulfed the plains. By midnight, wind-chills had plummeted to 40 below zero.

The next morning, up to 500 people lay dead on the prairie, many of them school children, who died while trying to find their way home.