MANHATTAN, Kan. - "As the days grow longer, the storms grow stronger" is an old saying that contains a kernel of truth, according to Kansas state climatologist, Mary Knapp.

"Longer days mean more hours of sunshine. Those hours infuse the atmosphere with more energy, which, in turn, can fuel strong storms," Knapp said.

The only thing required to translate that energy into severe weather is to mix it with a strong contrast in air masses -- the meeting of warm and cold fronts.

"Of course, severe weather can develop at any other time of the year, too," Knapp cautioned.

She cited this year's March outbreak of overnight hail storms and early morning tornadoes in the Midwest.

"Still, the long-term average puts Kansas' peak tornado month as May," Knapp said. "That's why early spring is the best time for parents to remind children about the family plan for what to do in case of severe weather."

But, the May average also is why the folk saying isn't totally on-target, she added. The summer solstice -- the longest day of the year -- usually occurs on June 21 or 22 in the northern hemisphere. It's Dec. 21 or 22 in the southern hemisphere.

Knapp is based with Kansas State University Research and Extension in K-State's Department of Agronomy. Her Kansas Weather Data Library Web site is here.

SOURCE: K-State Extension news release.