HUTCHINSON, Kan. — Spring is storm season in Kansas. That's why Meteorologist Vanessa Pearce from the National Weather Service office in Wichita made a visit to Reno County Thursday night.
Pearce presented about tornadoes and severe thunderstorms on Feb. 8 at the Fire Command and Training Center in Hutchinson.
"We are the number one state for damaging hail, winds, tornadoes per square mile out of anywhere in the country," Pearce said.
Pearce broke down her presentation into several different topics which included the history of tornadoes and severe thunderstorms in Kansas, storm structure visual clues, how to spot storms, how to accurately and safely make a severe weather report and how to take safety measures in severe weather.
In 2023, Reno County did not receive any tornado warnings but the county did receive 25 severe thunderstorm warnings.
"Be prepared because you can get severe storms in Kansas," Pearce said. "So it is best to be prepared not scared."
The National Weather Service recommends planning for weather emergencies a few days out if the forecast calls for severe weather ahead of time. Some tips for an emergency plan include a family communication plan, storing emergency supplies and keeping safe shelter options in mind.
A few visual clues that can give notice for potentially severe storm structures include knowing the difference between a weak updraft and a small updraft, the knowledge of the anatomy of a storm and knowing the difference between supercells and squall lines.
Pearce said sometimes folks don't have a clear understanding of how the National Weather Service's work may apply to them.
"Our job is protection of life and property," Pearce said. "We want to make sure people are safe. We had a good number of people who were first timers here and people that have been here many times and that's what we want to see. We want to see that wide base."
Pearce said the Wichita office plans to present in 26 different counties this year, including Kingman and Sedgwick County.
To make a severe weather report to the National Weather Service office in Wichita, call (800) 367-5736, use the mPing app, tag them on X with @NWSWichita or type the hashtag #kswx or tag them on Facebook at @NWSWichita.
Pearce said accurate weather reports on social media should include the time, location, your observation and a picture. More information about tornadoes, severe thunderstorms and the national weather service is available at weather.gov.