Friday, March 28, 2014

Be Prepared: Severe Weather

Although Severe Weather Awareness Week ended on March 7th, yesterday's tornadic storms that struck the Northwest Missouri area should be a reminder to us all to begin planning and preparing for possible severe weather conditions. Luckily, no one was injured yesterday, but there was some significant property damage in Trenton, Missouri.

In Kansas, mid to late April through mid June historically has the highest tornado frequency. Thankfully, Overland Park and Johnson County have been very lucky to have avoided a direct hit from a devastating tornado in recent history. However, we want to make sure you’re as educated and prepared as possible in the unfortunate case that day ever comes.

If you’ve been outside in a residential area when one of Overland Park’s 37 tornado sirens has sounded and severe weather was imminent, there was a good chance you observed a patrol car driving through the neighborhood advising residents to take cover.

The Take Cover Plan is a proactive measure to warn citizens to take cover from an impending or confirmed tornado. When this plan is implemented during severe weather, all field units equipped with emergency equipment will activate their emergency lights/siren and drive slowly through the immediate area utilizing their PA system to advise residents they should immediately seek safe shelter (Take Cover).

Residents taking shelter during a Tornado Warning should seek further instructions from TV or radio broadcasts to ensure the threat has passed and it’s safe to leave their shelter.

Please familiarize yourself with the terms below to help keep you and your family safe:

 Severe Thunderstorm Watch: Issued when severe thunderstorms are possible across the watch area. A severe thunderstorm features hail larger than 1” in diameter, wind speeds greater than 57mph, and can produce tornadoes.

Severe Thunderstorm Warning: Issued when a thunderstorm is expected to produce hail greater than or equal to 1” in diameter, or wind gusts greater than 57mph, usually based on radar data.

Tornado Watch: Issued when severe thunderstorms that have the capability to produce tornadoes are expected. Typically, wind shear is more favorable for rotating storms when a tornado watch is issued than for a severe thunderstorm watch.

Tornado Warning: Issued when a thunderstorm is expected to produce a tornado based on radar detected rotation or if trained storm spotters report a tornado. A warning may also be issued if storm spotters call in a report of low level rotation.