As you can see on the most recent Wichita radar image above, thunderstorms have become quite extensive along Northern portions of the dryline, generally to the North of Russell, KS.
I have circled, in red, where isolated storms are now beginning to form on the southcentral Kansas portion of the dryline. If you look very closely to the West of Wichita (within the ground clutter), you can see several cells trying to from from West of Lyons to West of Hutchinson to the southwest side of Wichita, and on down toward the Oklahoma border South of Wichita.
Thus far, a strong capping inversion has prevented the development of storms in southcentral Kansas, however the newly forming cells described above indicate that the cap is likely about to be broken, which will allow for rapid thunderstorm development and intensification.
Very large hail, damaging winds and tornadoes are likely with severe storms across the region this afternoon and evening. A tornado watch will likely be issued soon from northcentral into southeast Kansas. Based on the radar image shown above, it appears that storm development will either take place right over or to the East of Wichita, so the city may escape the brunt of the severe threat as it will take a bit for the storms to mature once they form.
Folks in Salina, Topeka, Manhattan, Lawrence, Emporia, El Dorado and Chanute should keep a close eye on the skies this afternoon for threatening weather to approach from the West.
Why is there not a major severe threat for most of the Oklahoma portion of the dryline? The capping inversion that I described above. Take a look at the latest visible satellite image below, with the dryline noted in yellow:
As you can see, towering cumulus clouds (which develop in advance of mature thunderstorm production) are firing all along the dryline in Kansas and extreme northcentral Oklahoma, but then they abruptly stop forming near the Enid area. This is because the cap becomes so strong along this portion of the dryline that clouds are not even able to form and extend vertically into the atmosphere.
So, we're looking at one of those "all or nothing" situations in extreme northcentral and northeast Oklahoma later this afternoon and into this evening. The cap will either completely prevent thunderstorm development in this region, or a lone storm will explode through the cap and become quite severe.
Any storm that does manage to form along or just South of the Oklahoma/Kansas border would be capable of producing the same threats (very large hail, damaging winds and tornadoes) as the Kansas storms, so this bears watching.
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