Good Question: Tornado Shelter For Wichita National Weather Service

By: Jeff Herndon Email
By: Jeff Herndon Email

Stay up-to-date with KAKE News:

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Last Sunday, as an EF-2 tornado approached Wichita, the National Weather Service in Wichita took shelter and handed over forecasting control to the office in Topeka.

Some of you want to know why the NWS office wouldn't just have their equipment inside a shelter, so they continue operating even in a tornado emergency.

I asked that question to the meteorologist in charge at the Wichita office, Suzanne Fortin. She said there are several answers.

One is cost. Building an entire office building to withstand a tornado is expensive, and Fortin said the risk just doesn't justify a fully operational shelter.

Since 1992, only three times has the staff in Wichita taken shelter and handed control to the Topeka office.

Fortin said the Topeka office is receiving the same data, so there’s no “let down” when it comes to tracking a severe storm or tornado.

Finally, the equipment: telecommunications, external communications and plenty of high tech tools. Sometimes those things simply don’t work efficiently in “fortified shelters.”

If you have a good question, send it to me at or find me on Twitter.

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