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Weather Queries

I am a volunteer at the Community Cooperative Rain, Hail, and Snow Network (CoCoRaHS). I live in the small town of Grinnell, Kansas, in the northwest part of the state. We are on the High Plains, and our area is pretty flat. Our average rainfall is only about 20 inches per year. On days when precipitation falls, there is almost always more precipitation reported north and south of us than here. As a storm spotter for the National Weather Service, I observe storms passing through our area. Many storms seem to split, with one part going south and one part going north of us. Is there some topographical effect behind this, or is it just my imagination?
-- Lem Marsh,
Grinnell, Kansas

I, too, have been a storm enthusiast since childhood, experiencing a mixture of awe and fear every time skies darken and thunder peals. I have also wondered whether my area was getting fewer storms than other areas and have heard the same thoughts from so many others that I am convinced it is a syndrome affecting almost all whose heart rates accelerate when storms approach. We want to be close enough to the action to see and photograph it clearly, yet not so close as to put ourselves at risk, and often it seems like we just can’t get close enough.          
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