Tuesday, January 21, 2020
US flag

Severe storms rake nation’s midsection

School districts in Oklahoma sent students home early this afternoon, hoping they would get there before tornadoes, 4-inch hail, and 80-mph winds caused serious damage and injury, the Associated Press reports.


A brief diagram showing air movement in and around tornadoes (Wooster)

Tornado watches were issued for 40 counties in the state, and News-9 in Oklahoma City reported a few observed touchdowns in the state. From the National Weather Service:

Tornado Watch 109 remains valid until midnight CDT tonight for the following areas in Oklahoma. This Watch includes 40 counties in central Oklahoma: … This Watch includes 6 counties in northern Texas: …

The Weather Channel also reported touchdowns in Indiana and large hail in Missouri, along with a radar-confirmed tornado touchdown just west of St Louis.

“It’s certainly possible we could see several tornadoes during the day on Tuesday,” CNN quoted Bill Bunting, chief of operations at the National Weather Service Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma, as saying. “Some of them do have the potential to be strong—an EF-2 or greater, which is winds over 110 mph, strong enough to cause structural damage to well-built homes.”

As of 2 PM local time, ABC News reported, schools in large sections of Kansas had canceled classes and extracurricular activities. Wichita State University closed all of its locations and canceled sporting events scheduled for Tuesday evening. Schools and other organizations across the state also canceled many after-school or evening activities.

Weather Underground observed that about 35 million people were in the path of severe storms.

Some school districts didn’t even wait till the afternoon, as Mid-Del Public Schools in the Oklahoma City suburb of Midwest City called off classes before 7 AM, saying that the safety and security of students and staff was the top priority. A deadly twister in 2013 killed seven schoolchildren in the town of Moore, Oklahoma, prompting school districts to revise and rehearse tornado drills and emergency release and closure procedures.

Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.

Recent posts

Feds boost Bay funding

Restoration efforts in the Chesapeake Bay watershed received a boost in federal funding in the budget Congress passed last month.

Md. & IL bands perform on New Year’s in...

Bands from IL and Md. once again entertained thousands of people who lined the streets of London and Rome on New Year's Day.

Howard Co. sounds an under-staffing alarm

Teachers in a Md. district have filed a grievance over missing planning and lunch periods and, as a result, putting the most vulnerable students at risk.

Top 11 school stories of 2019

We find these 11 stories to have the greatest potential for influencing activity and direction in schools for the near future.

Girls’ volleyball champs in Illinois

We congratulate the Illinois state champions in girls' volleyball: Newark, St Teresa, Sterling, & Benet Academy.

A weekend of ‘band geeks’ across America

The musical Band Geeks was in performance at a MD high school, just as marching bands from across America named a national champion.

2 dead, 3 wounded in Calif. school shooting

Another school shooting has resulted in the death of 2 California high school students. The suspect shot himself and is in custody.

Mercury makes a transit; next in 2032

A transit of Mercury occurred today and was visible from the US, provided you had sunny skies. It was one of longest possible transits.

On the Naperville BWW racist incident

A racist incident at a Naperville, IL, sports bar indicates that the threads of racism are strong, perhaps as strong as ever.

IL bill could excuse absences to vote

A proposed law in IL could give students up to two hours during the school day so they could vote in the upcoming election.

Loan forgiveness gains some bipartisan support

One Republican from GA, who used to work under Betsy DeVos at the US Education Dept, offers a plan to forgive some student loan debt.