Friday's Severe Weather Awareness Topic: Thunderstorms

Governor Sebelius has designated the week of March 10-14 2008 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.

Thunderstorms bring a variety of hazards to the state of Kansas. We all need to be prepared for these hazards at any time of the year. Severe Weather Awareness Week is the best time to review and practice your severe weather action plan.

Here is more information about thunderstorm hazards:

Severe thunderstorm and tornado watches are issued by the storm prediction center in Norman, Oklahoma in coordination with the local National Weather Service office. Watches are issued for large geographic areas from one to several hours before the expected onset
of severe weather. A watch indicates that conditions are becoming favorable for the development of severe thunderstorms and possibly tornadic storms. A watch is a "heads up" that severe weather is possible. It is time to keep an eye to the sky.

Severe thunderstorm... tornado and flash flood warnings are issued for a portion of a county or counties by the local National Weather Service office. Severe thunderstorm and tornado warnings are usually issued for shorter durations. Be aware that more than one warning can be in effect for your county. Listen to all hazards NOAA Weather Radio for severe weather warnings in effect for you location. Severe weather warnings are issued by the local National Weather Service office when severe weather is imminent or already occurring.

Severe thunderstorms warnings will be issued by the National Weather Service when a storm is producing hail one inch in diameter or larger and/or winds of 58mph or stronger. Severe thunderstorm warnings may be issued based on doppler radar or spotter reports of severe weather.

A tornado warning is issued when doppler radar indicates or trained spotters report a tornado is imminent or occurring.

Remember that significant property damage may also occur with straight line thunderstorm winds. In fact... most property damage is associated with straight line winds. Straight line winds may be in excess of 100mph and can cause more damage than a weak tornado. One type of straight line thunderstorm wind is a downburst. A downburst is wind that descends out of the bottom of a thunderstorm... hits the ground and spreads out in all directions. A downburst can be extremely dangerous to aircraft.

Intense thunderstorm updrafts can create large hail in thunderstorms. Strong updrafts carry water droplets high into the atmosphere... above the freezing level... within a thunderstorm. As ice particles grow in size, they become too heavy to be supported by the updraft, and they fall to the ground. Hail may fall at speeds up to 100mph. Hail causes more than a billion dollars in property and crop damage each year.


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