As recent tornadoes rolled across the South, destroying large swaths of land and killing hundreds, many western Kansans understand the loss that many families are suffering. Being in the middle of Tornado Alley, Kansans have seen what tornadoes can do.


    As recent tornadoes rolled across the South, destroying large swaths of land and killing hundreds, many western Kansans understand the loss that many families are suffering. Being in the middle of Tornado Alley, Kansans have seen what tornadoes can do.
    So when is a typical tornado season for Kansas?
    "Things really ramp up in western Kansas in May, but sometimes it can start up anytime after the first of March and can carry on through June." said Jeff Hutton, warning coordination meteorologist for the National Weather Service. "Typically, the second season is in the fall from mid-September to mid-October. Although there is not a cut-and-dried time, tornadoes can occur any time of the year."
    Kansas has had tornadoes in January and February, but those were relatively small.
    In the last 10 years, more tornados have been spotted because weather-related technology has improved and because there are more storm chasers. Kansas averages 77 tornadoes a year, with 15 in western Kansas alone.
    Tornadoes are not growing in intensity, either. In the late 1800s, there were some devastating tornadoes that killed hundreds of people. More recently, there were large outbreaks in 1974 and in April 1991. And of course, now, in 2011. 
    Hutton said if there is a tornado warning in your location, you should:
    • Not rely on the sirens. They may not sound or may not have power.
    • Go to the basement. Get under something. Debris may fall into the basement or you may be sucked out, as some people were in Alabama, but those are extreme cases.
    • In most cases, if you have a well-built house, you need to find an interior room like a bathroom or a closet as close to the center of the house as possible.
    • If you are in a mobile home, you have to get out of there.
    • One of the most important items to have is shoes. If your house is damaged, you may have to step on glass and other debris. Having some kind of footwear is essential.
    A cell phone, a radio and water supply are also must-haves, said Hutton.
    “Have a plan before a tornado would occur," he said. "If a tornado is a block away, you have 15 seconds. You should be thinking, 'What am I going to do?' You should know what you are going to do."
     If you are driving and a tornado is in your area, or if you can see one, drive away from it and find shelter.
 "Do whatever it takes to seek shelter," Hutton said.