National Weather Service Meteorologists Chance Hayes and Brad Ketcham spoke to a crowd of McPherson County weather spotters on Monday night for their regular spotter training course at the McPherson Community Building.
Attendees are taught the basics of thunderstorm development, storm structure, the features to look for, and where to find them. What, when and how to report information as well as basic severe weather safety are also covered.
When talking about storm safety, Hayes wanted to be sure that attendees knew that tornado warnings in McPherson County are still fairly rare occurrences, though they happen more often in Kansas than in most other states.
Hayes said, "Over a ten year period here in McPherson County, we've issued 28 Tornado Warnings."
Even fewer of those have been warnings that included the City of McPherson.
"If there's a home in McPherson like your house, you only really needed to go to shelter 10 times versus 28."
That said, tornadoes are not the only weather threat we see in Kansas. Wind and hail threats are also prevalent. In fact, there is one Missouri county that sounds the sirens for straight line winds over 75 miles per hour. Hayes thinks that's OK, because those kind of winds still do produce danger to those outdoors, and sirens are designed to be an outdoor warning device.
Sirens are designed to be something that gets you indoors where you can look at or listen to other media to find out what the threat is and what to do from there.
Also, Hayes provided statistics as to the accuracy of the Wichita office's issuance of Tornado Warnings.
Hayes said, "When they issue a Tornado Warning, a tornado generally touches down in that warning box, not the whole county, in the box that they draw, the highest threat area, usually about 65 percent of the time. Then, about another 25 to 30 percent of the time, there's a rotating wall cloud in that box that you've reported. Or, there may be a funnel dangling down that just hasn't touched the ground yet, that warrants you going to shelter."
Mid Kansas Online News Editor Nick Gosnell and Storm Spotter Jerry Bruce attended the training last night and we will be here when storms threaten to inform you of the particular threat at that time live on the radio on KBBE and when a threat is expected on a given day, we will look for opportunities to post information from the National Weather Service's Wichita office on Mid Kansas Online, as well. However, during storm events, the radio is the best way to get local information from us.