As I write this it’s 26 degrees outside. But by the weekend the forecast high is in the mid-70’s to near 80. The wild temperature swings are one sign spring, and severe weather in Kansas, aren’t far away.

When Does Severe Weather in Kansas Start?

Severe weather has happened in every month of the year, somewhere in Kansas. But typically I start paying attention to severe weather chances in mid-March. The peak of the season is commonly considered to start in late April along the Kansas-Oklahoma line, and by mid-June severe storms have typically moved north of the Kansas-Nebraska line.

The peak tornado weeks for Kansas are from about Mother’s Day to just after Memorial Day. But the National Weather Service confirmed tornadoes  in 2016 starting on March 30th, an EF0 in Cowley County (details) and ending Christmas Day (details)

Here’s a chart of the tornado statistics for Kansas in 2016, compiled by the National Weather Service:

Kansas Tornado Stats compiled by NWS

Kansas Tornado Stats Compiled by NWS

Does Severe Weather Scare You?

fearful child on couch surrounded by pillows

I’ve found the best antidote for things I fear is education.  There are myriad opportunities for you to learn about storms — how and why they form, what features should concern you and what ones worry people needlessly, and what to do when you’re in the path of a storm.

Options include storm spotting classes from the national weather service or local emergency management and having a speaker visit your organization, school or community group for a weather safety talk. For those in the Salina area, the Salina Public Library’s CLASS program (PDF catalog) has invited me to offer a three-part series that will take you from knowing little to nothing about storms to being qualified to be a local storm spotter if you would like. Find out more here

National Weather Service Storm Spotter Talks

Each National Weather Service office conducts at least one spotter talk in every county of their service area over the next two months or so. In spite of them being considered “spotter” talks, these presentations are chock full of information that’s relevant and easy to understand for anyone.
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NWS Offices and Storm Spotter Classes by County

County NWS Office
Allen Wichita
Anderson Topeka
Atchison Kansas City
Barber Dodge City
Barton Wichita
Bourbon Springfield
Brown Topeka
Butler Wichita
Chase Wichita
Chautauqua Wichita
Cherokee Springfield
Cheyenne Goodland
Cimarron Dodge City
Clark Dodge City
Clay Topeka
Cloud Topeka
Coffey Topeka
Comanche Dodge City
Cowley Wichita
Crawford Springfield
Decatur Goodland
Dickinson Topeka
Doniphan Kansas City
Douglas Topeka
Edwards Dodge City
Elk Wichita
Ellis Dodge City
Ellsworth Wichita
Finney Dodge City
Ford Dodge City
Franklin Topeka
Geary Topeka
Gove Goodland
Graham Goodland
Grant Dodge City
Greeley Goodland
Greenwood Wichita
Hamilton Dodge City
Harper Wichita
Harvey Wichita
Haskell Dodge City
Hodgeman Dodge City
Jackson Topeka
Jefferson Topeka
Jewell Hastings
Kerny Dodge City
Kingman Wichita
Kiowa Dodge City
Labette Wichita
Lane Dodge City
Leavenworth Kansas City
Lincoln Wichita
Linn Kansas City
Logan Goodland
Lyon Topeka
Marion Wichita
Marshall Topeka
McPherson Wichita
Meade Dodge City
Miami Kansas City
Mitchell Hastings
Montgomery Wichita
Morris Topeka
Morton Dodge City
Nemaha Topeka
Neosho Wichita
Ness Dodge City
Norton Goodland
Osage Topeka
Osborne Hastings
Ottawa Topeka
Pawnee Dodge City
Phillips Hastings
Pottawatomie Topeka
Pratt Dodge City
Rawlins Goodland
Reno Wichita
Republic Topeka
Rice Wichita
Riley Topeka
Rooks Hastings
Rush Dodge City
Russell Wichita
Saline Wichita
Scott Dodge City
Sedgwick Wichita
Seward Dodge City
Shawnee Topeka
Sheridan Goodland
Sherman Goodland
Smith Hastings
Stafford Dodge City
Stanton Dodge City
Stevens Dodge City
Sumner Wichita
Thomas Goodland
Trego Dodge City
Wabaunsee Topeka
Wallace Goodland
Washington Topeka
Wichita Goodland
Wilson Wichita
Woodson Wichita
Wyandotte Kansas City


Invite a speaker

I am available to do storm safety talks for community groups, service organizations, scout troops, and school classes. To find out more, visit my storm talk page.

There are others who do talks for local groups, as well. Each of the Wichita TV stations will schedule a meteorologist to give a weather talk for school classes, which often gets your class featured on TV! Some other spotters and chasers also give public talks…email me for contact information.
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Salina Public Library CLASS course

This course is three sessions, which includes a free public replay pf the NWS ICT storm spotter presentation on Saturday March 18th at Kansas Wesleyan University’s Peters Science Hall Room 201. The Wednesday sessions are designed to wrap around the Saturday presentation, but each of the three also sets alone

Wednesday, March 15, 1-2 pm or 6:30-7:30 pm

In this session, we’ll cover the very basics of severe storms and preparedness. If you’ve ever had spotter training this will be refresher material — but if you’ve always wondered how storms work this will be an ideal primer.


  • Why is Kansas “the heart of tornado alley?”
  • What factors make some spring days more favorable for storms than others?
  • What factors determine whether the main risk is from supercell storms or from lines of storms?
  • What is the lifecycle of a thunderstorm? What features should I look for in each type of storm?
  • What resources are available for me to monitor the weather for myself?
  • Basic severe storm response: simple steps to prepare and protect yourself and those closest to you, including pets, in each severe weather risk.
  • Saline County Emergency Manager Hannah Stambaugh will tell us about the new Outdoor Warning System being installed in Salina this year, and what the upgrade means to you as a resident.
  • One person in each class will receive a free weather radio at the end of the session.

Saturday March 18, 10 am until noon

Replay of the NWS Wichita “Storm Fury on the Plains” Storm Identification training class. Two attendees will receive a free weather alert radio during the session.

Wednesday, March 22, 1-2:30pm or 6:30-8pm

This session will briefly review what we covered in the first two sessions, then offer a chance for detailed discussion around the specific scenarios covered in the Spotter Talk on Saturday. We’ll also look in detail at the 2013 Moore, OK tornado, including a look back at the forecast discussions and model data in the days before the storm.

Other topics we’ll address:

  • Interpretation of radar images in regards to your personal safety as a storm observer
  • Examples of where to watch in various storm types for the hazards you need to stay clear of and/or report
  • How to talk with your friends and co-workers about storm safety
  • Resources for further learning
  • For those interested in being an official storm spotter, Saline County Emergency Manager Hannah Stambaugh will discuss the agency’s expectations and how to become part of the program.
  • Local Storm Spotters/Chasers will also display the tools they use in the field to observe and report weather conditions to the National Weather Service and local/area media.
  • One person in each class will receive a free weather radio at the end of the session.

The Wednesday sessions are limited to 20 people in the afternoon and 12 people in the evening, due to space limitations in the facilities we’re using at the library. Cost for each or the Wednesday sessions is $10The Saturday session is free.

To register: visit and search for Intro to Storm Tracking (available after Feb 14 until classes fill).

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