The Garden City Telegram

Storm surge — Take preparedness seriously during severe weather season

Severe weather reports over the weekend brought a reminder of one of Mother Nature's annual threats.

While strong winds and drought have combined to be particularly annoying in southwest Kansas, it's also the time of year for conditions to spawn severe thunderstorms and tornadoes — and for Kansans to once again review their preparedness at home and work.

It's anyone's guess how often tornadoes will form this year. The 10-year average number of tornadoes in Kansas comes in at an alarming 106.

Last year, however, was relatively quiet in terms of funnel cloud sightings in the Sunflower State. Fifty-six twisters were reported, the lowest number since 1994, when 42 twisters materialized.

Thankfully, there were no tornado-related fatalities in 2013 in Kansas, and just one injury. Most of the tornadoes that did touch down were weak and short-lived.

Earlier this year, weather experts called for the lingering "polar vortex" to delay tornado season in the nation, as arctic blasts cooled waters in the Gulf of Mexico. Warm, moist air from the gulf helps fuel thunderstorms capable of producing tornadoes.

And tornado season did indeed get off to a slow start. But AccuWeather officials still anticipate a serious surge of violent weather in May and June nationwide.

So, knowing there's no way to accurately predict what might happen, everyone must be prepared.

Garden City is among Kansas communities that do a good job of sharing details on the many public shelter locations for people without basements, those who live in mobile homes and anyone who may be caught away from home when danger strikes. It's important to know where shelters are available.

We also know weather alerts can be lifesavers when severe weather pummels communities.

While some tragedies cannot be prevented, it's been shown time and time again that disastrous fallout can be minimized or prevented by taking emergency preparedness and weather warnings seriously.

Mother Nature has a way of reminding us that we never can afford to become complacent when it comes to the threat of dangerous weather.

Be prepared, and stay safe as severe weather hits.