State emergency management and the National Weather Service (NWS) will conduct a Statewide Severe Weather Tornado Drill at 1:30 p.m., Tuesday, March 4th. Every school, citizen and business is encouraged to participate in the drill by practicing seeking secure, safe shelter from a "tornado".
The Federal Communication Commission (FCC) has granted a waiver to the state of Kansas The National Weather Service will be allowed to use the actual Emergency Alert System (EAS) code TOR for the tornado drill message. This means that NOAA Weather Radios that are set to receive the TOR code will activate for the test tornado warning. The commercial broadcast industry including all cable outlets should be prepared to receive a TOR coded message for the drill.
Local officials may sound warning sirens to initiate the drill. Area residents, businesses, and schools are urged to treat the drill as if it were an actual tornado warning. The purpose of the annual drill is to test everyone’s readiness for life-threatening severe weather events such as tornadoes, flash floods, large hail, and damaging winds.
Kansas experiences a variety of severe weather including tornadoes, severe thunderstorms with damaging winds and large hail, and flash flooding. Residents are encouraged to use this week, and the annual test day, to review their severe weather safety plans. Practice what you would do as if there were a real tornado warning.
We will also be focusing on several different severe weather safety topics through the week. The planned topics for each day can be found below.
Severe thunderstorms produce a variety of weather hazards including tornadoes, large hail, damaging straight line winds, flooding, and lightning. Now is the time to review Severe Weather Safety Information.
Severe thunderstorms producing damaging winds in excess of 60 mph and large hail can be a threat to life and property. Damaging straight line winds are much more common than tornadoes and can be just as deadly.
Those caught outdoors during a severe thunderstorm are particularly vulnerable. Everyone should be alert to the potential of severe storms. High winds associated with severe thunderstorms can strike suddenly. Winds in excess of 70 mph can easily overturn mobile homes.
Kansas recorded 56 tornadoes in 2013. The record number of tornadoes in Kansas remains at 187 documented in 2008. The average number of tornadoes that occur across Kansas during the past 30 years is around 80. Tornadoes can occur at any time of the year but they are most likely during the spring months of April, May and June with a peak during the last half of May and the first half of June across Northeast Kansas.
Each year, more deaths occur due to flooding than from any other thunderstorm related hazard. Why? The main reason is people underestimate the force and power of water. Many of the deaths occur in automobiles as they are swept downstream. Of these drownings, many are preventable, but too many people continue to drive across a flooded road.
For more information go to the Flood Safety Awareness page.
At any given moment, there are 1,800 thunderstorms in progress somewhere on Earth. This amounts to 16 million storms a year! In the United States, there are an estimated 25 million cloud-to-ground lightning flashes each year. While lightning can be fascinating to watch, it is also extremely dangerous.
Tragedies in school sponsored athletics are unfortunately a growing trend as well. When thunderstorms threaten, coaches and officials must not let the desire to start or finish an athletic activity or event cloud their judgment when the safety of participants and spectators is in jeopardy.
For more lightning facts and safety information go to the NWS Lightning Awareness page.
Interested in learning more about severe storms? Check our spotter training talk schedule and see if there is a session near you. Sessions are free, and an RSVP is not required.
Public service announcements courtesy of Bill Kurtis
Some helpful links:
A link to the 2014 Severe Weather Awareness Week packet is found here. (PDF format)