Kansas Emergency Operations Center activated due to the potential for severe storms

Posted: Updated:
Tornado near Hoisington on May 16, 2017 | Credit: Jason Keller Tornado near Hoisington on May 16, 2017 | Credit: Jason Keller

The Kansas Division of Emergency Management has activated the State Emergency Operations Center in Topeka to a partial level due to the potential risk for severe thunderstorms, tornadoes and flooding this afternoon and tonight in Kansas.

The SEOC will be monitoring the storms which have the potential to be fast moving storms and will arrive quickly once they start.  There is a potential for several rounds of storms to move across the state.

Angee Morgan, deputy director of the Kansas Division of Emergency Management, urged Kansans to take responsibility for their own safety. 

“Don’t only rely on storm sirens,” said Morgan.  “You should always have more than one way to get weather updates.  Use a NOAA weather radio, a weather app on your phone or stay in contact by phone with someone who does have access to updated information. If the emergency alerts sound in your area, head for shelter immediately.”

There are many different weather apps available to download.  It is recommended you download a credible weather app such as one offered by a local television station.  The American Red Cross offers a weather alert app and FEMA has a wireless emergency alert which can be downloaded for free.

Tornado watch issued for parts of Kansas, including Wichita

Individuals planning on attending outdoor events should monitor current weather conditions and be prepared to take shelter, if necessary.

“Take a few minutes now to make sure all your emergency supplies are ready and everyone knows your family emergency plan,” continued Morgan.

If your home does not have a specially constructed storm shelter, the safest place in the home is the interior part of a basement. Avoid taking shelter where there are heavy objects, such as pianos or refrigerators, on the area of floor that is directly above you. They could fall though the floor if the tornado strikes your house.

If there is no basement, go to the lowest floor in a small center room such as a bathroom or closet, under a stairwell, or in an interior hallway with no windows. Crouch as low as possible to the floor, facing down; and cover your head; a motorcycle or bicycle helmet is good protection. For added protection, get under something sturdy such as a heavy table or workbench. A bath tub may offer partial protection. Because of the danger of broken glass and other sharp debris, be sure to wear shoes or have extra shoes as part of your emergency kit.

If you live in a mobile home, do not stay there. Leave immediately and go to the designated shelter or a nearby building.

Ford County: Severe weather shelter, precautionary measures in place

A home emergency kit should include everything needed for each family member to survive for a minimum of three days without power. Kits should include one gallon of water per person per day; nonperishable, high energy foods; a battery powered NOAA weather radio; flashlights; extra batteries; a safe, alternate heat source; blankets; medications and other essentials. Pet owners are also reminded to include food, water and other essentials for their pets in their emergency preparations and make sure they have an ID tag in case they become separated from you.

Discuss your home emergency plan in advance, including shelter locations at home or away from home. Designate a meeting location after the danger has passed so everyone can be accounted for.

These storms have the potential to produce tornadoes, severe thunderstorms, lightning, hail, straight-line winds and flash flooding.  Follow these guidelines:

  • You are in danger from lightning if you can hear thunder. Because light travels so much faster than sound, lightning flashes can sometimes be seen long before the resulting thunder is heard. When the lightning and thunder occur very close to one another, the lightning is striking nearby. To estimate the number of miles you are from a thunderstorm, count the number of seconds between a flash of lightning and the next clap of thunder. Divide this number by five.
  • Many strong thunderstorms produce hail. Large hail, or flying glass that may have broken, can injure people and animals. Hail can be smaller than a pea, or as large as a softball, and can be very destructive to automobiles, glass surfaces (skylights and windows), roofs, plants, and crops. In a hailstorm, take cover immediately. Pets and livestock are particularly vulnerable to hail, so bring animals into shelter before storms begin.
  • Downbursts and straight-line winds associated with thunderstorms can produce winds 100 to 150 miles per hour, enough to flip cars, vans, and semi trucks. The resulting damage can equal the damage of most tornadoes. If a severe thunderstorm warning is issued, take shelter the same way you would if a tornado were approaching your area. Leave structures that are susceptible to being blown over in high winds, such as a mobile home.
  • Keep an eye on the sky. Pay attention to weather clues around you that may warn of imminent danger. Look for darkening skies, flashes of lightning, or increasing wind, which may be signs of an approaching thunderstorm.
  • Stay aware of your surroundings. Look for places you might go should severe weather threaten.
  • Listen for the sound of thunder. If you can hear thunder, you are close enough to the storm to be struck by lightning. Go to safe shelter immediately.

In flood conditions, heed the following safety rules:

  • Turn Around Don’t Drown.
  • Do not attempt to drive through a flooded road. The depth of water is not always obvious. The road bed may be washed out under the water, and you could be stranded or trapped.
  • Do not drive around a barricade. Barricades are there for your protection. Turn around and go the other way.
  • Do not try to take short cuts. They may be blocked. Stick to designated evacuation routes.
  • Be especially cautious driving at night when it is harder to recognize flood dangers.

For more information on emergency preparedness, go to www.ksready.govwww.redcross.org, orwww.fema.gov.

Check out these photos from across KAKEland snapped by our viewers, staff and local officials. Do you have pictures to share with us? Email them to news@kake.com.


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