WICHITA – Weather officials in Kansas are worried that a quiet tornado season last year will make residents complacent going into this spring.
The Wichita Eagle reports that officials are urging residents to not have a false sense of security since the state saw only 40 tornados last year, many of them weak. Kansas has averaged 100 tornados a year for the last decade and 80 tornados per year over the last 30 years.
“It’s human nature,” said Chance Hayes, warning coordination meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Wichita. “Many of us have a tendency to become complacent when we’re not faced with it on a day-to-day basis.”
AccuWeather vice president Mike Smith said at a storm chaser convention in Denver that he sees troubling similarities between this winter’s weather and 2011, which produced an outbreak of tornados in the Deep South, including the one that hit Joplin, Mo., killing 161 people.
“This cold air, when it finally gives way, you’re setting up a lot of potential energy” to feed storms, Smith said.
Nationwide, the number of tornados dropped 30 percent last year, from 1,253 to 888, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
“We do live in the bull’s-eye of severe weather,” Hayes said. “I try to drive that home.”