It's severe weather awareness week
Despite recent snowfall and colder temperatures, spring is not far off, and state and local emergency personnel want Kansans to be prepared for the severe weather that follows.
This week, March 2 – 6, has been designated as Severe Weather Awareness Week in Kansas with a statewide tornado safety drill planned for 1:30 p.m. Tuesday.
Besides reminding individuals where to seek shelter during a tornado, the drill also allows city and county personnel the opportunity to test their outdoor sirens to make sure they are operating properly.
Locally, storm spotter training will be held at 7 p.m. Thursday, March 5, at the Jackson County Senior Citizens Center, 312 Pennsylvania Ave. in Holton. The event is free and open to the public.
During the week, the Kansas Division of Emergency Management is urging Kansans to check their emergency kit supplies for their home, office and vehicle and review their emergency plans to make sure they are prepared for whatever severe weather is thrown their way.
“Even though March through June typically brings severe storms, tornadoes and flash floods, many people are still caught unprepared,” said Angee Morgan, KDEM deputy director, in a press release. “Being prepared really doesn’t take a lot of time or a lot of money and while the odds are good you won’t need to use your emergency kit, it’s better to be prepared, just in case.”
According to the National Weather Service, 40 tornadoes hit the state in 2014, about 40 fewer than the 30-year average of 80 and the fewest since 1989. Of those 40, one touched down in Nemaha County, another in Brown County and one in Shawnee County. None were reported in Jackson County.
There were 27 tornado-related injuries reported last year, but no fatalities, according to the NWS. The first tornado was reported April 2, and the last was on Dec. 14, a reminder that tornadoes can strike any time of the year.
The most tornadoes in one day in 2014 occurred May 11 when nine tornadoes were reported in the state. June was the busiest month for tornadoes in Kansas, with 17 reported.
Since 1950, Jackson County has experienced 30 tornadoes that included four fatalities and 17 injuries, according to the NWS.
Wednesday, March 4, has also been declared Flood Awareness Day in Kansas.
“People often don’t think about the danger of floods,” Morgan said. “On average, floods claim more lives each year than tornadoes. Just six inches of swiftly moving water can knock a person off their feet. More than half of flood-related deaths involve vehicles. Cars, even SUVs and trucks, can be swept away by just two feet of moving water. The best protection during a flood is to leave the area or your car and take shelter on higher ground.”
Information on emergency preparedness and building an emergency kit can be found online at www.ksready.gov