Kansas and Missouri Facing Severe Storm Along with “Gorilla Hail”

Volatile weather was bearing down on sections of Kansas and Missouri Wednesday night, with some storms bringing large hail.

Just after 8 p.m. CDT, the National Weather Service issued a severe thunderstorm warning for the Kansas City metro region, citing hail the size of apples, softballs, or baseballs.

“If you are in this warning, get away from windows and shelter inside now!!!” the National Weather Service wrote on X, formerly Twitter. According to the meteorological service, the storm earlier generated “softball-sized hail,” or chunks of 3.5 inches (8.9 centimeters).

The National Weather Service reported on X that traffic on part of Interstate 70 came to a halt for a period due to pouring hail. KSHB-TV broadcast images of enormous hail chunks, one of which was larger than the golf ball seen next to it, as well as at least one broken windshield.

The National Weather Service continued to issue tornado warnings Wednesday night in the areas surrounding Topeka and moving north, while severe thunderstorm warnings were issued northeast of Kansas City, Missouri.

Alex Sosnowski, senior meteorologist at AccuWeather, described the forecast hail as “gorilla hail” since it had the potential to be so large.

According to Sosnowski, Reed Timmer, a storm chaser who fancies himself an extreme meteorologist, created the name “gorilla hail”. In this scenario, the name might be appropriate: some hail from north-central Kansas into north-central Missouri could be the size of a baseball.

“When you get up to tennis ball, baseball-sized or God forbid softball-sized, that can do a tremendous amount of damage, and if you get hit in the head, that could be fatal,” Sosnowski said in a statement.

Cars are particularly prone to damage, therefore Sosnowski advised people to locate a spot to park beneath a roof if feasible.

Aside from the hail, heavy rain is expected in the same area. The National Weather Service warned of a risk of flash floods.

Forecasters predict that by Thursday, the storm will have moved east. The hail threat has decreased, but heavy rain and strong gusts are still expected from northeastern Texas to central Missouri.

The main threat for Friday is torrential rain — maybe up to 4 inches (10 cm) in some places — along a line from middle Louisiana to central Arkansas, according to Sosnowski.

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