Kansas City sometimes gets severe weather, including:
- Severe thunderstorms
- Damaging hail
- Destructive winds
To be prepared, be aware of the situation. You know the old saying, “If you don’t like the weather in Kansas City, stick around.” Our weather can change dramatically within hours. Check mainstream media and the National Weather Service daily for the forecast in our area. You can also sign up for Kansas City’s latest messaging system, AlertKC, to receive messages about severe weather and other events that may concern you. The following terms will help you understand potential risk.
A warning is issued when a hazardous weather or hydrologic event is occuring, imminent or likely. A warning means weather conditions pose a threat to life or property. People in the path of the storm need to take protective action.
A watch is used when the risk of a hazardous weather or hydrologic event has increased significantly, but its occurrence, location or timing is still uncertain. A watch means that hazardous weather is possible. People should have a plan of action in case a storm threatens and they should listen for later information and possible warnings especially when planning travel or outdoor activities.
An advisory is issued when a hazardous weather or hydrologic event is occuring, imminent or likely. Advisories are for less serious conditions than warnings, that cause significant inconvenience and if caution is not exercised, could lead to situations that may threaten life or property.
An outlook is issued when a hazardous weather or hydrologic event is possible in the next week. Outlooks are intended to raise awareness of the potential for signifcant weather that could lead to situations that may threaten life or property.
High Winds / Tornadoes
The City maintains 126 tornado outdoor warning sirens. The sirens are not meant to be heard indoors, so it’s a good idea to have an all-hazard weather radio for alerts about imminent danger, especially at night when you’re sleeping.
Tornado sirens are audibly tested on the first Wednesday of the month at 11 a.m. if the weather is good. During an actual incident, sirens are sounded when the National Weather Service issues a tornado warning or a trained storm spotter reports a funnel on the ground. When you hear the siren, go immediately to your safe place and take pets with you, if it’s safe to do so.
In a building:
- Go to the lowest level possible.
- Find a small interior rooms away from doors and windows.
- Avoid large rooms such as gymnasiums and warehouses.
In a car:
- Exit the vehicle and seek shelter in a substantial building.
- Never seek shelter under an overpass.
In a mobile home:
- There really is no safe place in a mobile home.
- Be proactive in monitoring the weather and move to a safer place as quickly as possible before severe weather strikes.
The City does not issue an “all clear” message. You’ll need to monitor mainstream media or listen to an all-hazard radio to determine when the threat has passed and it’s safe to leave your shelter.
Streams and rivers can flood, of course, but also low lying areas, drainage ditches and areas near clogged storm drains.
If flooding occurs, get to higher ground and avoid walking or driving through flood water. Be especially careful at night when it’s hard to see the water and determine its depth. Six inches of moving water can knock you off your feet and will reach the bottom of most passenger cars, causing a loss of control and/or stalling. Twelve inches of water will float many vehicles and 24 inches of rushing water will carry most vehicles away, including SUVs and pickup trucks. Identify multiple routes to places that you travel in case your primary route is flooded.
Flood water is nasty stuff. It can contain chemicals, raw sewage, snake, bugs, sharp objects and other debris. Don’t let children or pets play in flood water and thoroughly clean anything that it touches. Throw away flood-soaked items that cannot be washed like mattresses and food. When in doubt – throw it out!
Many homeowners insurance policies do not cover flooding. If you want flood insurance and are having trouble getting it through a commercial insurance carrier, check out the federal government’s National Flood Insurance Program.
Visit our pages on developing a family emergency plan, emergency kits and pet preparedness so that you and your family have basic supplies on hand and know what to do for severe weather and other emergencies.