September 23, 2021
If you want to maximize your chance of seeing a tornado, come to Kansas. It holds the title for the most tornadoes per 10,000 square kilometers. In other words, year after year Kansas produces the most tornadoes…per given area. A bigger state like Texas may count a larger number of twisters in a year, but if Texas and Kansas were the exact same size, Kansas would win hands down.
That being said, tornadoes are actually very rare events, even in the heart of Tornado Alley. I live in Kansas and my home will probably get hit by a tornado only once every 200-300 years, on average. That doesn’t mean it couldn’t happen this year or even this week, but the odds are greatly in my favor. Still, my family and I are always prepared. We have multiple ways to receive warnings, including NOAA Weather Radios in the bedroom, kitchen, basement and cars. And we have a safe area in our basement, ready if needed. Whether I am home or not, everyone in the household knows what to do when the weather radios go off.
The Sunflower State’s 2021 tornado season started very, very slowly. Through April, we were locked in a “tornado drought”, but on Monday, May 24 the town of Selden was visited with a photogenic tornado captured on film and video by a small crowd of thrilled storm chasers. Thankfully, damages in Selden were minimal and no one was injured. Our partner SevereStudios.com was streaming live video from their team of chasers as the sky darkened and the twister roared. It’s a sight seen every year in Kansas.
The National Weather Service in Goodland, Kansas had issued a tornado warning forty minutes before the swirling column of destruction breached the Selden city limits. Everyone with a NOAA Weather Radio had more than half an hour to prepare for what was coming, and the lack of injuries indicates residents were aware trouble was headed their way. Several storm chasers reported they received no warnings on their cell phones, a reminder that cell-based warnings, like every other warning system, can fail. Make sure you and your family have multiple, redundant ways to receive life-saving emergency alerts. I recommend a NOAA Weather Radio for every home, school and business in America. It’s first, fast and official information direct from your local National Weather Service office.
In Tornado Alley, the spring severe weather season runs until early July. By that time, the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico are warming up and my attention shifts to hurricane season. Wherever you live in the USA, there is some type of natural hazard, even drought-fueled wildfires in the West. Put yourself in charge of your family’s preparedness plan. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has an excellent website that teaches you how to get prepared, and what you need. When you are prepared and have a plan, you'll gain peace of mind and sense of accomplishment knowing you've done everything you can to keep your family safe.