Tuesday's Severe Weather Awareness Topic: Tornadoes

Governor Sebelius has designated this week as "Severe Weather Awareness Week" in Kansas. The National Weather Service in coordination with the Kansas division of Emergency Management, Kansas Emergency Management Association, Kansas Highway Patrol, and other local and state volunteer organizations, is promoting severe weather education and preparedness.

The average number of tornadoes in Kansas is about 57 (from 1950 to 2007)... however in 2007... there was a record setting 137 tornadoes in the state. There were 14 deaths and 82 injuries reported with these tornadoes. The previous record for tornadoes in Kansas was 135 tornadoes in 2005. There were record numbers of tornadoes in February... March and May in 2007. Kansans need to be prepared for tornadoes in any month of the year and at any time of the day or night.

To keep your family safe from tornadoes... here are some safety rules to follow. At home... seek shelter in a basement or storm shelter. It is best to go underground if possible... otherwise got to an interior room such as a closet or bathroom. Stay away from windows and protect your head. If you live in a mobile home... exit to the nearest storm shelter or basement. Know how long it will take you to reach that shelter. Practice your severe weather action plan at home... work... school... church... or other locations you frequent. Check the latest forecast to find out if severe weather is possible that day.

If you are driving and a tornado approaches... you must exit your vehicle. Move away from your vehicle and find a low spot or ditch. Lie flat and cover your head. Do not try to outrun a tornado in your vehicle. Avoid highway overpasses... they easily become congested and impassable. Winds from the thunderstorms or tornadoes may be much stronger underneath and overpass and there is no shelter from flying debris.

If you are away from home... consider where you will seek shelter at school... work... church and in commercial businesses. The peak times of tornado occurrence are the afternoon and evening hours. Stay away from buildings that have large unsupported roofs such as gymnasiums... industrial buildings or large retail stores. Stay away from windows. Go to the building's designated storm shelter.

Listen for tornado watches and warnings issued by the National Weather Service in Topeka. Tornadoes can develop rapidly from severe thunderstorms. Remain alert to other indications that a severe thunderstorm may produce a tornado... golf ball size or larger hail... a storm that has previously produced a tornado... or a loud roaring sound.

A statewide test tornado drill will be conducted during severe weather awareness week. Kansans are urged to practice their severe weather action plan as if it were a real tornado emergency.

Please contact Jennifer Stark at 785-232-1493 or at jennifer.stark@noaa.gov for more information.


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