Spring signals beginning of severe weather

Cars line up to enter the K-State Parking Garage as severe weather approaches Manhattan on April 24, 2016. (File Photo by George Walker | The Collegian)

The end of the spring semester at Kansas State also marks the beginning of Kansas spring weather, which can mean sunshine and clear skies one minute, and tornadoes and 90 mph winds the next. When the weather turns suddenly, it is important to be safe and prepared for the perils spring offers.

Mackenzie Thrush, junior in communication sciences and disorders, said she knows that spring weather can turn at any given moment.

“I normally check the weather and look on the news,” Thresh said. “(If there’s a tornado) I get to the basement.”

Thresh said her sorority Sigma Kappa does not have a basement, but if a tornado warning were to occur, she would go to neighboring fraternity Phi Delta Theta.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Weather-Ready-Nation, a program which helps communities prepare for the perils of extreme weather, states that spring weather “roars in like a lion, rampaging across the United States.” Its website specifically lists tornadoes, floods, lightning and even heat as spring hazards.

K-State Alerts

To help students stay aware of bad weather in the area, K-State offers an alert-messaging system called K-State Alerts. The system, which is run by K-State Police, allows the public to sign up for alerts concerning inclement weather or public safety.

“We use the National Weather Service, and we get with Emergency Management,” said Lt. Bradli Millington, K-State police department coordinator for support services. “The dispatch center runs it and we send them (alerts) out for here, Salina and we send them out for the Olathe campus as well.”

Millington said that the alerts are primarily used for tornado warnings and safety alerts. The alerts used to get sent out for any thunderstorm watch or warning, but he said they scaled it back because there were so many alerts it became “like firearms, where nobody paid much attention to them.”

Students and faculty have the option to receive the alerts via text, call, email or any combination of the three that they choose.

“They send the alerts to my email anytime something happens,” Amir Pshenov, freshman in political science, said. “I feel like they are necessary because its important to inform students that there is something is going on. Even if nothing happens from it, students need to know.”

Be prepared

Accuweather has several tips to stay safe during the spring season, including knowing the difference between a tornado watch and a tornado warning.

“A watch is issued when conditions are favorable, for example, either for a severe thunderstorm or tornadoes,” Dan Kottlowski, AccuWeather.com senior meteorologist, said. “It doesn’t mean severe weather is imminent.”

A severe weather/tornado warning means that weather is imminent based off of specific criteria and reports that have been received.

Weather-Ready-Nation advises citizens to know the forecast before leaving their homes for the day. The group also suggests having an emergency supply kit that has at least 72 hours worth of food and water in case an emergency does strike.

Lastly, the group advises citizens to come up with an emergency communication plan with friends and family for meeting places and plans of action in case the risk of severe weather increases.