New technology could improve tornado warnings in Kansas

Published: Mar. 2, 2020 at 10:11 PM CST
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The statewide tornado drill will take place in Kansas on Tuesday at 10 a.m., as a part of Severe Weather Awareness Week.

The goal is to prepare Kansans for the upcoming severe weather season and give you time to find your safe place - the basement or the most interior room of your home - should severe weather strike.

On average, you have less than 20 minutes to find shelter after a tornado warning is issued from the National Weather Service's office in Wichita. In some cases, it's even less than that.

Now, researchers are working on new technology that could improve the warning system and give you more time to seek safety.

When a severe or tornadic storm approaches, the NWS puts a warning box or polygon on that storm.

Ken Cook is the meteorologist in charge at the NWS office in Wichita. He says currently, the polygon stays stagnant but with newer technology, the box would move with the storm, warning those in its path - sooner.

"If I live in Whitewater, Kansas, when a warning is issued for Harvey County, I am typically at the end of a warning polygon and have historically been that way. What 'Threats in Motion' will do is give that an equal chance so that people in Newton and Whitewater would get the same type of warning if the storm was heading their way, instead of one large box that says there is an equal chance everywhere," says Cook.

Cook says it will take years of research before the new technology can be used safely.