A crowd of about 150 people experienced a real storm fury in Salina Thursday evening. National Weather Service Meteorologists Chance Hayes and Robb Lawson were in town to present the “Storm Fury On The Plains” spring severe weather safety and spotter class.
Hayes handled the main part of the presentation this year.
Hayes began with an informal breakdown of a damaging Saline County tornado event that happened last fall. On October 6th two tornadoes touched down in rural Saline County. Two homes were hit, and one of them was destroyed completely. When the first tornado touched down, an official warning had not yet been issued. Hayes attributed this to weak signals on the radar, probably because of the time of year. KSAL Storm Spotter Elizabeth Ernst and her “Storm Busters” team were already out watching the storm, and were reporting the tornado on the radio before the warning was issued. Though there was damage, there were no injuries. Hayes says the warning was prompted by spotter reports, and also attributes spotters to the best statistic, no injuries or fatalities.
Hayes than went on to use his multi-media presentation to teach 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 were also covered.
In 2016 there were 102 tornadoes in Kansas, which is 40 above the average. Included in those numbers are four tornadoes that touched down in Saline County. There were 12 tornado-related injuries in Kansas in 2016, but no fatalities.
What will the the 2017 storm season bring? Lawson told KSAL News that it’s really tough to tell. He said that though we are currently in an abnormally warm and dry pattern, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it won’t be an active severe weather season. Lawson cited a similar set-up going into last year’s severe season, and it turned out to be an active one.
Lawson also discussed the October Saline County tornado event, and a Christmas Day severe weather outbreak in Kansas. He said “though those instances are rare, they prove that severe weather and tornadoes are possible any time of the year in Kansas.
“Storm Fury on the Plains” will be presented again at several communities around the area.