Severe weather can strike at any time.

Even though peak months are in spring and early summer, tornadoes occur throughout the year. An Alabama town recently experienced the horror of a deadly twister, with 23 people killed — a tragedy that delivered a sobering reminder for all Americans to review where to go, and what to do when dangerous weather materializes.

Kansas, of course, is no stranger to the threat of tornadoes, to include the massive Topeka tornado of June 8, 1966, which left 17 people dead.

Last year saw 45 funnel cloud sightings in the Sunflower State, a total 17 below the average of 62 since 1950, according to the National Weather Service. Thankfully, there were no tornado-related fatalities in 2018 in Kansas, but eight injuries were reported.

As we head toward the time of year when it’s more likely for conditions to spawn severe thunderstorms and tornadoes, Kansans once again have cause to review their severe weather preparedness at home, work and school.

The recent observance of Severe Weather Awareness Week included a statewide tornado drill, which drove home the importance of being prepared, just in case. Drills and reviews of what to do in an emergency may seem inconvenient, but taking time to go over plans and practice evacuation drills are efforts that do indeed save lives.

And while it may sound like a broken record, everyone should have a plan in place in case severe weather or other emergencies strike, and regularly communicate those details to ensure everyone knows what to do, from youngsters to the elderly.

It's important to note that tornado warnings sounded with outdoor sirens aren't designed to be heard indoors. Emergency preparedness experts recommend keeping abreast of severe weather by tuning into television or radio reports, or using a weather radio. The timely alerts can be lifesavers, and should never be ignored or otherwise taken lightly.

More information on ways to stay safe is available on the Federal Emergency Management Agency tornado preparedness website, ready.gov/tornadoes.

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

No one should be complacent when it comes to the threat of dangerous weather.

 

Gatehouse Kansas