May 10, 2016: It’s that time of year again!
The 13 Weather Authority has been visiting schools every spring for the better part of the last decade, educating area students about the science behind tornadoes, and severe weather preparedness. We are kicking off another round of schools this week, visiting at least one a day through next Friday. Our goal is to make sure the kids in our area are less scared by severe weather, since they know what to do and where to go when severe weather strikes. We also hope the students we talk to every year share this information with their friends and family, so everyone in our community knows how to respond to severe weather.
The question for you is: do you know what to do? Are you ready for severe weather season?
Throughout the week and into next week, we’ll be bringing you a variety of topics to help you get ready, plus offer a few opportunities to view us live while we are in action at the schools for Project: Tornado, in addition to having a live chat about severe weather and getting ready for the season.
For starters, a little more about tornado season itself:
We typically see the majority of our tornadoes between April and June. This is what we consider “tornado season” around the Stateline. The reason for the season during this time frame is due to the “roller coaster” weather we usually get around this time of year; we bounce back and forth between very cool and very warm, giving us that contrast in air masses that promotes thunderstorm development. The winds throughout the atmosphere are in the right places to help with wind shear, or winds moving at different directions at different heights. This provides the “spin” needed in the atmosphere for rotating storms and severe weather.
IMPORTANT: remember that we can get severe weather and tornadoes at any time of the year! Tornadoes have touched down in northern Illinois in November (the Washington tornado in 2013 is an example), or even in January (the Poplar Grove tornado in 2008). As long as the conditions are set up right, we can get tornadoes even in the winter.
Most tornadoes pop up in late afternoon to evening hours in the Stateline. Again, don’t think we can’t get overnight or early morning tornadoes, but the majority develop later in the day. As you may have guessed, the later afternoon hours are the hottest parts of the day, so the amount of energy built up in the atmosphere is at its highest. If we can get something to act as a trigger, storms will explosively develop and lead to severe weather.
Since we are in the middle of May, we are smack dab in the middle of tornado “season”. If you aren’t prepared for severe weather already, this is the time to do it!
The National Weather Service has a great breakdown of the steps you need to take to be ready for severe weather. It’s called PPMA, or “Prepare, Practice, Monitor, Act”.
Right now you should be taking the “prepare” and “practice” steps. I’ll talk more about all of these steps in the coming days, but here’s something to get you started:
-Start by reviewing your severe weather plan. Do you know where to go at home, work, school, etc. if there’s severe weather?
-Do your family and friends know this plan, where to meet, and how to get a hold of one another before, during, and after severe weather strikes?
-What ways do you have to get weather information and severe weather alerts? Are all of these methods on, working, and in a place that you will be able to hear them in case of an alert?
Start going through these questions, and we’ll provide some tips and suggestions throughout the week!
This post was written by Alex Kirchner on May 10, 2016