Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Storm Fury on the Plains

By now my readers know that Gesserine is a weather nut, so last year I took her to the Storm Fury on the Plains presentation put on the by the National Weather Service out of Wichita. She sat through the entire 2 hours and couldn't wait to go again. They do this annually so last night we attended it again. I am glad we did because last year I had no idea how much information would be in one of these things and I forgot so much of it when I got home. This year, I took notes!

The Storm Fury on the Plains is an official weather spotting training session. They offer these in every county because Kansas has the second highest number of severe weather events in the country. Only Texas tops us simply because it is bigger. Per 1000 miles, we are just barely behind Oklahoma. Basically statistics confirm what we already know, we are in the heart of tornado alley. 

The information they give you is fascinating and of course educational.  We were quizzed on trying to determine wind speed, our ability to spot storms, asking what we saw, what the threats were, were we safe, and what we would report. Gess participated and answered questions getting many of them correct. I didn't get them all right myself!

We learned a lot of interesting facts and tricks to help us determine information to send in. If you want to know how strong the winds are there are things to look for to give you a general idea of how fast they are blowing. Check out these facts.

Of course you can also buy wind meters to use with your smartphone. I looked into some of those but most are IPhone or Android. I have a Windows phone.

As for safety information, I think Gess and I know pretty much how to play it safe. Still, I did learn a new interesting fact you may want to know. Things you need to have prepared in case of a storm are food, water, a first aid kit, weather radio (or cell phone), a whistle, and shoes. I had never heard of shoes being important before but after a storm it is dangerous to walk around. From now on, when the tornado warning is issued we are putting on our shoes while hiding in our safe room!

It is really important that your family have a safety plan and survival kit. The above kit is the bare minimum. For a more in depth look at what you need during severe weather here a few links from the National Weather Service Saftey and Survival Page:

Planning Ahead for Severe Weather
Basics of Severe Weather Safety
Disaster Supply Kit

I would highly recommend these sessions to anyone.  Even if you don't want to be a trained spotter, there is important information to help you know what to do when you are faced with severe weather. One year we ran right into a storm and a tornado crossed the road right behind me! If I had taken this training then, I would have known to stop and not drive through the storm. I had actually paused and considered it but chose to go through. Now I know better! So while technically we are now trained spotters and if I report a sighting I can do so by stating "I am a trained weather spotter and I saw such and such at this time heading this direction" that is not my main motivation for taking the training. It's to avoid potential threats for myself and the bonus is that I can now call it in to warn others! And of course there is the fact that Gess just loves learning about weather. Being homeschoolers we take all the free courses we can get our hands on. This one just happens to be important for everyone.

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