Spring-like temperatures shift focus to severe-weather awareness

Published: Mar. 1, 2021 at 5:46 PM CST
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - Local parks in Wichita welcomed extra visitors again on Monday (March 1), the latest among moderate, sunny days that followed a brutal February stretch of sub-freezing temperatures with days of record cold in Kansas. With more days reminiscent of spring, this week is dedicated to severe weather awareness. That includes tornadoes.

“Tornadoes are horrible. I feel like we’ve been fortunate here in Wichita, but we always got to stay alert, especially with tornadoes,” said Wichitan Lamont Barnes, among those out Monday, enjoying the clear skies and temperatures approaching 60 degrees.

Could this spring bring more tornado threats after an overall quiet severe weather season last year? In 2020, there was a record-low 17 tornadoes that touched down in Kansas. The average for the state is about 80 to 90 tornadoes per year. While there’s no way to accurately predict how many tornadoes will touch down in Kansas this year, Storm Team 12 Chief Meteorologist Ross Janssen indicated this year is likely to be more active than last year.

With the active winter we had, and during a La Nina season in which the Pacific Ocean’s waters are cooler, Janssen believes these factors may lead to more severe weather events this year. That’s why he’s reminding people to be prepared.

“It’s easy to get complacent, especially after having a season like last year where we really didn’t have many severe weather days,” Janssen said. “But staying safe really starts days before a storm, thinking about your safety kit, having extra water, having a (sufficient) amount of batteries in the event you would lose power.”

On Tuesday morning (March 2), tornado sirens across Kansas will sound. The National Weather Service will conduct a statewide tornado drill at 10 a.m. as part of Severe Weather Awareness Week.

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